The Honourable and Loyal Order of the Trenchermen

Saturday 5/2/2005

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Diary and Notes

It is that time, the time of the gathering.

No greater or more prestigious event in the social calender exists than the biannual meeting of the Honourable and Loyal Order of the Trenchermen. So exclusive is this small group and so secret the organisation that they do not crassly advertise their meetings in the court circulars of the London Times and no mention is ever made in Forbes Magazine or Vanity Fair. Yet twice a year, for the past ten years, this most influential of societies meets and discusses matters of state which can shape the very future of the world. We are the true Bilderbergers and you conspiracy theorists have not even known of our presence until now.

So what is this society and what are its aims?

The trenchermen is a group dedicated to the hedonistic pleasures of our misspent youth. An attempt to throw off the aura of respectability in which we are all constrained and to be once again free to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, to drink, to eat and to smoke enormous cigars. Much like a gentlemans club of old (of which this is a revival) only men are admitted. The honour of hosting the event is dictated by who won the previous competition and each event is in itself a competition, the rules of which are determined by the host and kept secret until the competition is won and the trophy is passed to the next host.

This time the honour belonged to Mr Kevin Keeble, a fine and upstanding member who has never failed to put on a fine feast in the past. He has promised some strange delights from the continent of Africa to tempt our tastebuds, along with a selection of wines and spirits from around the world. Before the event began we went to the pub to watch England lose to Wales at rugby (the shame hangs heavy on us all) then returned to Mr Keeble's house, for the opening ceremony and the feast.

Kev had not failed to dissapoint.

When he said he had delights from Africa we weren't quite expecting what was on offer. The opening course of toasted leafcutter ants should indicate just how traditional he was intending to be. These were actually quite tasty, a bit like peanuts - salty and crunchy, and would be pretty good with a glass of beer down the pub. Of course we were plied with glasses of wine (a Macon and a really excellent Cotes du Rhone) and a few measures of Poire William while we nibbled - things were staring to loosen up.

The next course was a home made hummus and a North Afircan style chick pea stew. (With some chilled weissbier).

Next was the coup de grace, the Mopani worm and peanut stew. Apparently a staple for millions of Africans and one of the major protein sources for whole populations, the worms are black with white flecks and about 3cm long, they look like very big black maggots. I can't say I was a fan of Mopani worms, in fact I thought they were disgusting. It wasn't so much the taste but the texture, really brittle and liable to get stuck in the throat. At one point I was forced to leave the table and take a stroll to avoid sharing my dinner with the other assembled guests. Still, we all ate our fair share and a new experience and taste was added to the list of things I've eaten so far this year. The peanut stew that went with them was good and some fava bean dip and flatbread helped swell our bellies. This was followed by some sausages stuffed with nuts and honey (apparently a South African type thing) which were sweet and savoury and well worth having a go at. He poached some pears in Marsala wine for dessert and had also bought some very expensive coffee, the beans of which are eaten by civets and then extracted from their excrement before being washed, dried and roasted. Yum. It was excellent coffee however, not a hint of bitterness and very full flavoured at the same time. If it wasn't for the expense I might make this a staple of my weekly shop.

Well done Mr Keeble. A fine meal all around.

I didn't win the cup, my friend Chris Pook took that honour for his sterling insect eating capabilities. I did however win the poker and managed to come away about 100 quid better off.

I look forwards to the next Trenchermans and no doubt a review of what Mr Pook offers us will appear here later in the year. Perhaps he'll roast a hippopotamus. (A whattamus?)

Cake Blog

Pears in Marsala wine with creamy Cotswold ice cream


  • Toasted leaf cutter ants

  • Hummus
  • Chick peas and chorizo
  • French bread

  • Mapani worm and peanut stew
  • Foul medames (fava bean dip)
  • Flatbread

  • Sausages stuffed with honey and nuts
  • Fried potatoes

  • Pears in Marsala wine

  • A selection of Cheeses

  • Civet coffee