Mx and middle-ground dinners

The news last month that the honorific Mx is going to be added to the OED’s list of terms made me v happy. Unlike the standard Miss, Mr, Mrs and Ms, Mx is genderless. It already exists on some forms and should hopefully enable people to express their identity more accurately. To be honest, these honorifics seem a bit anachronistic: married women are not necessarily taking their partners’ surname, and companies are eager to prove that your gender will have no influence on your job prospects. However, before the gender pronouns disintegrate altogether this neutral title is one step towards putting to bed these binary terms.

The next move should be a gender-neutral pronoun. I know the English language can boast that they possess one. But I’m not sure anybody would be particularly happy with announcing that ‘it is coming to the party to’. Asides from relegating the individual to a pronoun that denotes inanimate objects, dehumanising them, it is not a particularly pleasant-sounding combination of two letters. If you find yourself a spare moment, have a think about a pronoun to cement this most excellent middle ground.

I went out for dinner to a pub in Barnt Green that had been refurbished and was quite fancy shmancy and so I think that means it merits the title of a gastropub. I think gastropubs have a tricky time asserting their identity, to be honest. Pubs have a clear direction: hot, hearty food, loud, beery laughs and always, always, freezing cold toilets. I am disappointed if, when on a pub stop during a dog walk, the toilets are not bone-chillingly cold. Gastropubs are not so certain of themselves. Does the food have to be weird and wacky? Must the interiors be ultra-modern? I haven’t a clue. Anyway, The Barnt Green Inn was very modern, with a grey cream colour theme, bare wooden tables, plenty of lighting and tall young boys in skinny jeans serving us. They weren’t quite techno-savvy to have received our internet booking but whatevs, it wasn’t busy.

We were a bit disappointed when three of the table decided on guinea fowl only to be told as we were ordering that there was no more guinea fowl. I had chosen a rack of lamb with butternut squash purée, courgette and saffron Parmentier potatoes. My sister went for the Gressingham duck leg confit and waffle with sweet potato, hispi cabbage, honey roasted pineapple and jus, and the other dish on the table was roasted salmon with broccoli, feta, Portobello mushrooms and a pineapple, lemongrass & ginger dressing. They all sounded pretty fab, to be honest!

After waiting an absolute AGE for our food they arrived looking highly appetising. And, when I had a taste of Vanessa’s, it was like a marriage for all, and of all. The sweetness of the fluffy potato and pineapple jus, pink, soft duck and crunchy cabbage: there were strong foundations and lots of passion going on there. Likewise, with the salmon, the feta was strong and serene over tender salmon and a bit of crackle with the ginger lemon sauce. In comparison to all these perfect matches, I was disappointed with the lamb. First, I ordered it rare, expecting to have red juices flowing freely, but, although pink in the middle, it did not raise my vampire pulse. The butternut squash purée was wonderful, but I could not detect one sop of saffron and I did not experience the rainbow of combinations as I’d had with the two other dishes. A bit miz when the other two dishes were good examples of this type of pub.

I love a good middle ground when it comes to gender. Mx Liz approves. But, when it comes to food, taking you beyond the end of the spectrum is what makes food magical, and the lamb was a mid-point that I was not as interested in.



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