Is rocket is becoming the Japanese knotweed of the culinary world?

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From Mike Houghton.

AS I continue my culinary exploration around our island, I am compelled to make a further report.

I was surprised at the amount of response to my letter concerning pies (that are not pies) and the very positive nature of that ongoing discussion proves that some establishment out there should be offering a special: a real pie (gap in the market and all that). But enough of this, it’s just pie in the sky and there are much worse gastronomical nightmares to think about.

Rocket! All over the Island portion sizes are smaller. What to do with all that empty plate space? A big handful of rocket is what. Breakfast, bung on the rocket – with breakfast, what? Sandwich, rocket… anything at all, rocket! I am sick of rocket!

Elon Musk and Richard Branson like rocket (well, bits of it), Elton John has always been a rocket man and, like them, I too enjoy a bit of rocket (a small bit in a side salad).

If I do order a salad then by all means throw in a little rocket, and some cucumber, tomato (probably from Spain as our tomato industry is long gone), a bit of red onion, beetroot, maybe some grated carrot and a spoon of sweet corn, spring onions perhaps and a nice dressing to finish – now that’s a salad (and you can add a radish too if you like). Some more upmarket establishment might even add a leaf or two from a cos, a Webbs or even some crisp humble iceberg and a sprig of cress, and a really creative chef might add a sliver of green pepper. What you get now if you order the ‘green leaf salad’ is a fistful of rocket and, with bad luck, a couple of slices of dried out cucumber.

Of course, you can always try ordering and asking ‘no rocket please’. Imagine the panic and confusion in the kitchen as the chef tries to think how to fill that vast empty space on the plate. If you’re lucky you will get an artful swirl of some kind of gravy, only it will be called a jus, and a pretty piece of carrot cleverly carved to look like a flower. Enjoy. I had a meal the other day, it came with no rocket – I was over the moon.

This nasty peppery leaf has become the Japanese knotweed of the catering industry and they are dumping it on us – we are actually paying them for it. Looking around when I am enjoying a meal out, I can’t help but notice the little clumps of limp rocket sitting on side plates. Where the plate was once filled with the promised dish from the menu (or a near enough stab at it), now half the plate is rocket. On the other half is a tiny serving (at twice the price) of what we ordered – is this the real reason for the inexorable rise of the rocket?

We can only hope it will all one day end up like Elon and Richard’s own rocket – spread all over the ocean. One would think that with the sight of the dumped rocket on side plates (or better left on the table) that the restaurateurs would get the message. I mean, it’s not rocket science, or is it?

2 Beech Court, Woodlands Apartments, Rue des Côtils, Grouville.

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