As The Handbook’s self-appointed Scotch Egg Correspondent I’m always on the look out for the hard hitting scotch egg stories that are rocking the nation. And finally there actually is one! The humble Scotch egg has now been upgraded, from ‘bar snack’ to ‘substantial meal’.
The government’s Environment Secretary George Eustice has yesterday morning told LBC Radio that Scotch eggs should pass the government’s ‘substantial meal’ test for pubs looking to serve alcohol. The minister explained that as long as “there were table service” then it’s probably kosher. Except, obviously not kosher.
Under new rules for hospitality announced by Boris Johnson last week, the Prime Minister made clear that pubs and bars could only serve alcohol if it accompanies a ‘substantial meal’.
As someone with a waistline increasingly betraying the fact I am no stranger to substantial meals, the concept even puzzled me; as it did much of Britain. After all, one man’s substantial meal is, believe me, another’s starvation diet. Just ask David Beckham.
One man's substantial meal is, believe me, another's starvation diet. Just ask David Beckham...
Grilled by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, George Eustace was asked ‘what constitutes a substantial meal? Scotch egg?’, to which the minister (eventually) responded ‘I think a Scotch egg probably would count as a substantial meal, if there were table service’.
Which is great news for Scotch egg fans, but also for anyone cheering on the hospitality industry. While the new regulations are incredibly punitive, and as-yet not allied with a promise of compensation or further financial aid, this does at least give them a window of hope that a sort-of loophole is in sight.
After all, if every punter orders a sausage roll or Scotch egg with their pints, this might be enough to tempt people back into pubs and bars and there might even be a slight uplift in sales as Scotch eggs fly off the shelves (or from under those glass bowls).
But it’s a sign of further incoherence for a government constantly defending its coronavirus response and fending off attacks from the opposition, public and, increasingly, its own MPs. If they don’t want people going to the pub, so as not to transmit COVID-19, then making it easier to go to the pub and transmit COVID-19 probably isn’t the way to go about things. What the industry needs isn’t confusing rules, but rather real financial aid. And as a Scotch egg lover I say this reluctantly: Scotch eggs alone simply aren’t the answer.
Still, it could be worse, we could be in Tier 3…