My local Sainsbury’s is a bloody disgrace…

My local Sainsbury’s (Upton, Wirral), is, as I’ve banged on about frequently, a wasteland of empty shelves on a Sunday – and today was no exception. The deli counter was looking pretty sparse too. How, if the word Manager on your dinky little name badge means anything at all (other than to save you asking people who you are all day), can you have your store so massively under-stocked on one of the busiest days of the week? It’s insane.

However, for sheer, mind-numbing, stupidity, they excelled themselves today. To avoid the pork and beef sections being, mostly, empty, echoing, voids, they’d filled up the empty space with about  a zillion packs of mince.

I wanted a decent-sized piece of brisket, to unroll, cut into chunks and cook very slowly, along with some kidneys. First pitfall, no brisket. I rummaged in a morass of dodgy-looking “roasting joints” so utterly devoid of fat they’d had what looked like slabs of processed suet strapped to them in the vain hope of encouraging the ignorant or unfussy to buy them (here’s a tip, guys – instead of adding fat, don’t cut the bloody stuff off in the first place!). And adding fact is an entremely poor substitute for that that’s an intrinsic part of the meat, and which carries a lot of the flavour..

Eventually, I turned up two pieces of sorry-looking brisket, one way too small and fatty – I like fat on brisket, but not when it’s been shoved in the middle and the meat wrapped around it – the fat, most of it anyway, and a fairly thin layer, should be on the outside. The other piece was a tad under a kilo, with almost no fat, not great – no attempt to roll it, it was just folded over – but viable, so I grabbed that.

Second pitfall, not a single bloody kidney of any description. I’d checked the website last night (I use the online shopping pages to compile my shopping lists, then just copy the trolley to Word), and all it offered me in a search for offal was “Did you mean Tefal?” Well, no – what sort of a numbnuts programmer could think to himself (they’re usually guys), “I know, if people ask for offal I’ll assume they want pans.” Jesus wept!

Searching for kidneys brought me kidney beans, steak and kidney puddings and pies, dog food, ready meals – hard to tell those two apart – plus a vast amount of totally unrelated crap, but no kidneys. So I wasn’t entirely surprised when I came up empty.

But why? They sell liver, not so much sliced as hacked up with an axe (look, if the people you employ have the knife skills of a blind plumber, don’t you think they’re in the wrong job?**), but it’s there, so why not kidneys? True, as there’s only two per animal they’ll go fast (though maybe not; there’s less taste for offal these days), but that’s no excuse for not stocking them at all.

**The website displays tray after tray of impeccably sliced or cubed meat – the reality is more like roadkill. They do take care with the expensive, hung for 21 days, stuff, which suggests they can do it if they want to, but I won’t pay such a huge premium when what’s been done to the meat is, essentially, nothing – it’s just been left on a hook in a cold-room for three weeks – it hasn’t incurred additional labour costs, or transport costs, just storage. That’s not worth double the price or more.

Back in store, the only offal I found was a couple of pathetic trays of lambs’ liver which were almost black and looked older than god. I’d have happily used lambs’ kidneys, but not liver – cooked long and slow it’d wind up as tough as old boots – you need pigs’ liver for that, and it really doesn’t go with beef (it’s very good, though, cut in strips and cooked slowly in an oniony tomato sauce).

So it’s going to be a basic beef stew (carrots, onions, beef, of course, and peas, added near the end). That’s OK, it’ll still be good. I might salt the beef first (you need kosher salt or very coarse sea salt, not flakes), to get at least some of the inevitable water out of it (if it was blood, not water, a good vet could have it back on its feet). And, as I’ve learned not to try to fry off Salisbury’s meat – just leaks wet gunk – I’ll just dust it with flour so it thickens as it cooks.

Then, to add massive insult to injury, I spotted a sign which said “Due to the lack of meat on display, why not try chicken or duck?” Not, you’ll notice, “Due to a shortage of meat beyond our control…” So, better yet, you dumb, useless, bastards, stock your goddamned store properly – better empty shelves than mince no-one wants in such vast quantity, and it’s fooling nobody  – or bugger off and make way for somebody who can.

Anyway, why would I buy chicken or duck, if I wanted pork or beef? There seemed to be ample lamb, though.

And if you’re wondering why I continue to go there, it’s because I get a lift. Oh, and Tesco is even worse!


11 thoughts on “My local Sainsbury’s is a bloody disgrace…

  1. Very WELL written Ron! I have totally given up trying to buy any kind of meat from both Sainsbury’s and Tesco over the weekend as I found exactly the same empty shelves except for their ” Well hung” expensive pre packed joints/cuts. In fact I now use a local Master Butcher and get what I want when I want it. The Butcher is 5 minutes away with great parking whereas Sainsbury’s is 9 miles away and Tesco 5 miles, both stores disabled parking spaces are usually always full of non disabled types who use the extra wide spaces in order that their up market 4 x 4’s do not get scratched ! I hope you are coping with this cold weather. Enjoy your cooking1

    Kind regards


    • Thanks, Geoff.

      Stew’s on, though god knows what cut the meat is, it’s sure as hell not brisket. Flank, or maybe even neck, would be my guess. Way too much connective tissue for brisket, but that’ll cook out given time – it’s in the slow cooker with beer (St. Austell Tribute), Sweet Spear carrots, loads of finely chopped onion, beef stock, dried mushrooms (mine), mushroom ketchup, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, thyme and dried basil, so, once it’s up to temp, I’ll turn it right down and leave it for the rest of the day. (Vinegar seems counter-intuitive, but it adds depth, rather than acidity. Sherry is about right, balsamic too assertive, malt’s for chips and cider is for pickled eggs!)

      Heated frozen peas will go in about 22.00, and I’ll turn it off some time after midnight, depending on how it’s doing, and leave it to cool overnight, sealed with clingfilm.

      Should be good, despite Sainsbury’s.

      Next job, order some pork shoulder and belly pork online and make some Cumberland sausage.


  2. another masterpiece Ron, if OK with you I will cite you as the inspiration for my own food blog, slow cooking sounds very good! Looking forward to learning how to make decent Cumberland sausages. 🙂

    • Yep, fine by me. Thanks.

      I wrote a bread blog a couple of years ago, but it didn’t get the attention to make it worthwhile, even though, after bringing it back “in house” as it were, bread posts get loads of hits. Just not on their own blog!

      Now I just pile everything into the one blog, which goes against received wisdom but seems to work OK for me.

      • Thank you Ron! I think that you know rather more than ‘received wisdom’, an expression used by lazy journalists who cannot be bothered to research the subject. Any way, I have no trouble with following or finding your blogs which have an impressive number of followers around the world because you write well on every subject you’ve tackled.

        p.s. dare I ask about your new computer and its delivery process?

        • Perhaps “received wisdom” was the wrong term – “recieved geekiness” is better. Though one of the first things I learned about computers is that many things the geek fraternity claim shouldn’t or can’t be done work perfectly.

          New PC kicked out Win 7 64-bit claiming it’s corrupted (Not unknown with Win 7!!) Possible, though, as it’s a download, but I monitored the signal throughout and it was fine all the way through the interminable process, but I suppose even incoming email might screw up the signal – it wouldn’t take much to render it unusable. Maybe a dodgy file. Anyway, I’m going to buy another, DVD copy, and get a refund on this one.

          Delivery, from ebuyer, was fine – a couple of days.

          And it could also be a bad DVD write – my DVD drive is very fussy about media. Got some TDK discs which are OK for normal purposes, but maybe balk at ISO files. Bottom line – dunno!

          • All sounds promising, probably a duff DVD. I’ve been downloading OS DVDs for yonks and have experienced no corruption so don’t even bother with checksum before burning. But I am connected by Virgin cable which is intrinsically cleaner then the best ADSL. Nowadays I install from USB using something like to boot/install from a USB stick. TDKs usually OK, I’ve been using ASDA’s cheapest with no problems but your DVD drive could be particularly fussy – when I’m doing it for somebody else I suggest that they buy a stock of Sony disks. . Good luck with it all – looking forward to reading the blog about it and I’m sure that others out there will take heed of Ron’s experiences and follow whatever your implicit advice is 🙂

            • The only problem writing it up is remembering how I fixed any problems, as my short-term memory sucks – and most of my long-term memory before I was in hospital last January is just a blur or even completely gone, so most of what I do with PCs is on auto-pilot (the info is in there, just not consciously accessible much of the time), and if someone said Well, why did you do that? other than because it seemed the right thing to do – and worked – I’d have no real idea.

              I write the same way but, in this case, I always have – I sit down with an idea – and the words take care of themselves. None of it’s pre-planned or even, much of the time, with much in the way of conscious input from me – it’s as if there’s a direct connection from subconscious to hands, bypassing thought on the way. And yes, it feels as weird as it sounds at times but, hey, it works. I might have to trim some clunkiness, or swap a word for a better one occasionally but, other than hitting the spell-check button, and fixing some ME-induced problems**, that’s all the rewriting it gets.

              **I have a tendency to type words backwards, and aphasia is a huge problem (which is why I write better some days than others – it depends what words are available). I also type a for I, or vice-versa, for some mysterious reason. Not always, but enough to be aggravating.

  3. The first point I understand completely – when I was working in IT as a a contractor, I used to fix things and when asked how I’d fixed something I would say something trite like “it’s magic” and then point out that at my hourly rate it would cost a for them a fortune to have a written and detailed explanation. The boss didn’t mind – s/he was just pleased to have a resolution. I was an arrogant sod then but I was making a good living.

    On the second point, I envy your brain to keyboard fluency! I think faster than I can type but had to learn how to communicate with clarity when I was living and working in Prague amongst highly intelligent and multi-lingual people who were endlessly frustrated and angered by the sloppy Brits and Americans who could not understand that being native speakers did not automatically make them fluent.

    • On the other hand, I’ve never been able to get more than the smallest grasp on a foreign language (won’t starve or go thirsty, or have to sleep on the streets, but that’s pretty much it**), yet when I worked in shipping I could read most European languages – we had to, for the preparation of consular documentation – yet with speech I could never get past the basics.

      **Not so much a problem with speaking – massive road-block when it was coming back at me, though.

      My life would have been a hell of a lot easier had computers come along 40 years earlier but, on the other hand, I’d never have become a telex or comptometer operator – skills that might be needed again when nanobots reduce silicon to dust! 😉

      • which is much more than the typical Brit confronted with anything foreign 🙂
        telexes are still a favoured means of secure point-to-point communication such as spooks or the covert shifters of high value commodities. My very first office job had a fearsome dragon comptrometrist who was being side-lined by the computerised computer systems although she was being used as the accuracy benchmark by the senior accountants involved in the testing of the new systems.

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