The Australian media is having a field day at England's expense after a hilarious document giving the team's bizarre and outrageously extensive catering demands was leaked.
Sounding like a cross between a Heston Blumenthal restaurant menu and the contents of a branch of Holland and Barrett, the 194 detailed recipes insisted upon by England chiefs include such gems as these:
- "Piri-Piri Breaded Tofu with Tomato Salsa", which includes 20 different ingredients, including "Panko bread crumbs". What is Panko you ask? Well, according to Wikipedia it's: "A variety of flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine as a crunchy coating for fried foods, such as tonkatsu. Panko is made from bread baked by passing an electric current through the dough, yielding bread without crusts." Of course it is.
- "Pumpkin seed and goji berry breakfast bars", which actually contain three times as much peanut butter as they do goji berries. But 'peanut butter bars' wouldn't sound very elite performancey;
- "Mungbean Curry with Spinach", whose recipe includes the helpful hint to "adjust the seasoning" at the end;
- "Butterscotch and oat truffles", which contain no butter, scotch or truffles. The recipe also includes what we can only assume is a brilliant typo ("chilli for 1 hour and serve" rather than 'chill for 1 hour'), which will give Aussie chefs a great way to lace England food with unwanted chilli;
- "Raspberry and oat cranachan pots", whose recipe includes no reference to what a 'cranachan pot' might be, nor where to find one. The ingredients are simply raspberries, yoghurt, oats, sugar, honey and mint, but "raspberry yoghurt" would clearly have sounded too much like something to be served at a toddler's tea party;
- "Tender stem broccoli with hollandaise and toasted almonds", which is bound to cause a scandal since it's listed in the Test match catering demands, yet without a recipe in the booklet. How very dare they!
- "Quinoa with roasted butternut squash, apricot and parsley", which has the greatest recipe instructions Cow Corner has ever seen, namely: "Combine all the ingredients." That's it!
The documents were apparently prepared by England's team nutritionist, Chris Rosimus, and detail dozens of different foods which the team demand are available at various stages throughout the day.
And hey, that's probably a warning to be taken seriously: who knows what volcanos might erupt were somebody to deny Ian Bell his "grilled aubergine, red pepper, red onion and basil puree sandwiches" at tea? And what carnage might ensue if anyone dared stand between Jonathan Trott and his "Lamb and pea kofta kebabs with mint yogurt", served precisely 20 minutes before the end of play on day one of each Test match?
The list of demands was sent to all the venues where England will be playing - and presumably it's somebody at one of those venues which leaked the entire thing to the Sydney Morning Herald.
But it's not just the recipes that raise eyebrows: it's the absurdly dictatorial tone of the documents which accompany them.
"Some ingredients within this book will not be in season when you come to use them. If availability is an issue please do not use an alternative or omit from the recipe," it warns.
In other words, find someone in the world who can get those ingredients flown in - or else. After all, the Ashes would surely be in the balance if some joker tried to get away with using Tunisian or Algerian spices in the "Moroccan spiced griddled chicken fillets with lime and coriander mayo".
In fairness, getting an edge through good nutrition is part of modern sport - and on top of that, a lot of the food sounds fantastically good. The Sydney Morning Herald even got local Masterchef judge Gary Mehigan to give his verdict.
"This is healthy eating personified", he declared, which sounds like a thumbs-up, despite a rather fuzzy understanding of the word 'personified'.
"It's got plenty of on-trend stuff in there like grains, things like sunflower and safflower and pumpkin seeds, it's got kale which is the new superfood and it's got quinoa," Mehigan added.
''Things that are really on-trend in restaurants are duplicated through this.
"Actually, whoever has written it has kept in mind that these boys in the off-season probably eat at some of the best restaurants in the world and probably enjoy their food.''
As for the Australian team? It turns out that they sent their own catering requests to the venues as well, but as the host team's nutritionist Michelle Cort put it, "Our set-up is a little bit different... it certainly wasn't 82 pages!"
We'd love to see the equivalent Aussie document, and would be desperately disappointed if it said anything other than, "a few sangers and a barbie plus a coupla crates o' stubbies and we'll be right."