Remote Control - Saturday 27 July 2013

Bob Blumer eating a toilet curry in Taiwan
Bob Blumer eating a toilet curry in Taiwan

How about a novelty – a simple meal?

One thing about this job is that I’m being encouraged to go on a televisual adventure.

I’d always been a sub-116 man, rarely venturing higher than BBC4, albeit for the occasional Sky Sports News update and Film4.

I can’t afford sports or movies packages, Andrea Bocelli always appears to be on Sky Arts – and you only need a limited time spent with blind Italian tenors – and some of the other zones frankly scare me.

After the wildlife, food and travel networks, it’s like a hinterland of debauchery.

Around 588 it goes god – Believe TV, Faith World and the Gospel Channel – then just past the kiddies’ shows, it’s peddling tat.

And very little of all of it is new. But this week on the Good Food channel series two of World’s Weirdest Restaurants began.

I’d never seen it before, and understand a follow-up commission is no indicator of quality, but the review of series one made me think I’d been missing out.

Host Bob Blumer is on a “madcap quest to find the world’s wildest and wackiest” places to scoff – and I reckon he’d found them.

I’d missed a curry served in a miniature porcelain toilet in Taipei or catching your own fish from a tank in Japan.

His waitresses have included macaque monkeys in a Japanese tavern, drag queens bringing Asian fusion in New York, cavemen in a Czech prehistoric dwelling and limbo dancers offering roasted pig while battling an ‘indoor hurricane’ in a Tonga room in San Francisco.

Bob’s second helping started with a trip to Thailand to the Flying Chicken restaurant in Bangkok. There, the roasted birds were set on fire, catapulted through the air, then, hopefully skewered on the spiked helmets on unicycling-riding servers.

One guest said the experience married, “live music, karaoke, flying chickens and great food.”

Quite.

The apprentices apparently practise with foil-wrapped cabbages.

Don’t be telling Ian Duncan Smith – he already thinks the state subsidising supermarket chains to take on people approaching pensionable age as cashiers at the rate of £2.65 an hour to be a modern apprenticeship.

Imagine if he could massage the unemployment figures by getting Barnsley to catch vegetables while balancing on one wheel.

Bob then went on to visit a sushi bar in Japan that has “eliminated servers” with little trains and an at-table touch screen computer.

And diners could win a cheap tacky plastic toy if they slid their plates into a cutlery washing chute. IDS would love that – apprentice robots – but would metallic slaves be his perfect flexible workforce?

Back to the show, the guests could even have a go – and win a rubber chicken.

If you could get past Bob’s zanyness this was an easy way to while away an hour.

Going out for a meal was a novelty when I was a lad, now it appears there has to be a novelty to get people to eat out. After all, in August you can eat at Morecambe’s Midland Hotel while the Are You Being Served gang solve a murder in menswear!

Alan Burrows