I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now and up until this point I have never reviewed a Linda McCartney product. This is is partly because she’s dead and it didn’t seem fair to criticise her vegetable based goods when she is no longer on this earth with the capacity to defend herself. Then I thought, well that’s irrelevant as no celebrity I have ever criticised has given two hoots about my insignificant blog, so why should Linda be any different. I also had reservations about reviewing a product where the celeb involved had had no say in it’s creation. Then I thought if the people behind Linda’s range were happy to make money off her name then it was fair enough that I should review it, when her name was emblazoned across the packet. And so it came to pass that I have a packet of two cheese and leek plaits.
Before starting to write this blog I had a think about what I could say about Linda and it became apparent that I actually knew very little about her and what I do know could be summed up in 3 points:
- She’s a vegetarian
- She married Paul McCartney
- She’s a vegetarian
I then googled her and learnt she’s a photographer, musician, animal rights campaigner, entrepeneur, publisher. This is an impressive skill set and I feel sorry that I have essentially reduced her identity to pop stars wife and vegetarian. Apart from the greatest hits of Wings I would say that Linda’s greatest legacy is the food brand that she left behind. I can’t think of another mainstream brand that caters solely for vegetarian and vegan diets and for that Linda should be proud. With such a strong presence her products must be good and so it was time for me to try them.
The instructions told me to brush the top of the plaits with milk or egg and cook in a fan oven for 25 minutes. I did exactly that and when I opened the oven a pale, sorry looking slab of pastry was staring back, so I left them in for another 5 minutes, then another, then another, then another and eventually after 45 mins of cooking I served up my cheese and leek plaits. I cut into them and had a taste. It was a revelation in blandness and strange textures. The pastry was horrible, it did flake were it was cooked on the outside, but deeper in it was oily and even after close to double it’s allotted cooking time it was stubbornly uncooked. It tasted powdery and certainly not like a good rich buttery puff, a closer look at the ingredients provided the answer – the pastry was made with rapeseed oil. The packet suggested that the filling contained cheese but the grainy, pale congealed gloop that oozed out of the pastry was nothing that I would ever have recognised as cheese. On closer inspection it turns out that the “cheese and leek plaits” actually have potato mixed into the filling. Potentially a cheesy mash would have been great but instead of cheesy mash I got a wall paper paste textured sludge, made up of water and vegetarian cheese 20%, potato flakes (whatever they are) 11% and actual potato 10%. They were seriously horrid and if this is the best food that vegetarians have representing them on the shelves then I feel nothing but pity.
After such a depressing mouthful and a ruined dinner I started to feel bitter and angry so took to the packet to see what else I could find wrong with it. Apart from the claim that it was an “Improved recipe” it was hard to pick fault as there were many positive things like “Made in Britain” – good for the economy, “We always use the least packaging possible” and “This carton is sourced and made from sustainable forests” – good for the environment. Then there was a quote from the McCartney Family ” Mum believed that the kitchen was the heart of the home and we are proud to carry on her ethos of honest, delicious, vegetarian food that’s good for animals, the earth and you” they were doing all the right things and I was about to give up when the ingredient list caught my eye and I spotted “palm oil” amongst them. Palm oil is one the food industries biggest evils and apart from meat eaters probably does more damage to animal welfare than anything else. After the “sustainable forest” packaging line the use of palm oil is a mockery. Palm oil is guilty of killing off vast swathes of rainforest.
At the risk of getting overtly political on a blog that is usually focussed on taking cheap shots at celebrities, it is laughable that a product associated with animal rights would use palm oil. It is responsible for the deaths of 50000 orangutans in the past 20 years, some of them have been hacked to death by machetes or buried alive. Other animals affected by palm oil are the Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Sun Bear, Pygmy Elephant, Clouded Leopard and Proboscis Monkey.
I basically copied the previous paragraph from Say No To Palm Oil so rather than me keep banging on about it here you should probably visit their website instead. But needless to say Linda has undermined herself with that one!
Linda McCartney Cheese and Leek Plaits £2.00 for 2 plaits
3/10 but I’m deducting 3 points for the palm oil so 0/10