Saturday, 14 August 2010

Missing out the best bits

The print media, and I very much include myself in that category, still struggle with transferring longer articles - features, profiles etc - onto the web. Stuff that works very nicely across three or four pages in print just becomes a daunting slab of text on a web page.

There are, undoubtedly, clever things that can be done designwise to mitigate this. Except, of course, journalists who write are different to journalists who design pages.

Magazine publishers, in their unending quest to squeeze every last drop of value out of their employees, tend to take the view that writers can post their own stuff online. Frankly, since none of them are making any money out of the web, they don't give a rat's ballsack whether it looks pretty or not.

So all the clever, twiddly design stuff that goes into making a printed page gets ignored online. All of which means that sometimes, some of the best bits of print features get left out. Boxes, tables and charts are far too complicated for the average hack to work out how to transfer online, so they get quietly left out. And since very few editors or publishers bother to read their websites, no one notices.

As a case in point, in the current issue of Eat Out, there's a feature on bagged snacks. Written by me. You can find it here:

As with every feature I write, it's jam-packed with useful advice, in this case about the latest snacks, crisps and related salty products which pubs can employ to ensure their customers keep their thirst levels constant.

However, those fortunate enough to have a print copy - it's the August issue, and is inevitably destined to become a collectors item  - are also treated to my top five beer and snack matches. Given the years of hard work that went into training my palate to make such definitive judgements, it seems a tragedy that this information is not available to the online audience.

So, here it is:

• Cheese & onion crisps: Think of cheese & onion as a ploughman’s lunch in a bag, and the match is obvious. A cool, foaming pint of cask bitter has a maltiness that rounds off the intensity of the flavours in the crisps.

• Salted peanuts: The combination that launched a million post-match debates, salted peanuts are an ideal partner to an ice cold pint of lager. Was that ball over the line? Of course it was! Who’s round is it?

• Ready salted crisps: The sharpness of the salt in a bag of plain crisps is beautifully counteracted by a classic IPA. The citrus flavour notes of the highly-hopped ale will help to soothe the salty tingle, as well as quench the inevitable thirst that follows.

• Dry roasted peanuts: So much of the flavour and crunch of these nuts comes from the roasting process. A stout or mild has complementary deep roasted malt flavours to match, as well as chocolate notes to counter the nut’s dryness.

• Pork scratchings: The Midlands is prime territory for both pig breeding and brewing, and gave the nation both pork scratchings and mild beer. The creamy undertones of a classic mild are an ideal complement to the – and there’s no nice way to put this – lardy notes of the snack. Mmmm.

There. No no one need feel left out.