COLUMN: August 10, 2017

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Look at all those sesame seeds. What are they even for?

SESAME seeds are dangerous, and it’s about time that somebody did something about it.

There should not be an outright ban on sesame seeds – sesame oil is an important ingredient in Chinese cuisine, and the last thing we need to do at the moment is annoy the Chinese – but there should at least be some regulation surrounding their use.

I say this because I have previous with sesame seeds, and so I understand just how perilous they can be. A few years ago, I was enjoying a post-film hamburger with my son when I cracked a pre-molar, an experience which very much is not to be recommended.

At the time I blamed my distress on an onion ring. But, in retrospect, I realise it cannot have been that. The onion ring, while battered, was hardly crisp. It was so soft that if I had rolled over onto it during the night while in bed, I would not have woken up.

The bun was pappy and certainly not up to the task of holding a small beef patty for more than a few bites, although the amount of sugar in it might have had some effect in weakening my tooth.

The burger itself was not exactly al dente. A small baby could have made a good stab at it. As for the barbecue sauce, if you have to bite through barbecue sauce there’s obviously been some sort of accident. The same goes for the weird plastic melted cheese that was draped over the burger. I do not know what makes the cheese that strange yellow-orange glowing colour, but I would not want to meet the cows responsible.

That only leaves one culprit. The only things hard enough to break a tooth were the sesame seeds sprinkled for some reason on top of the bun.

Nobody knows why sesame seeds are sprinkled on top of hamburger buns. In quantity, sesame seeds have a strong flavour, but you only get 20 on your bun, so they have a limited effect. They are the Andrew Ridgeley of garnishes – a hamburger would look wrong without them, but nobody knows what they do.

The only reasonable explanation is that they are part of a stitch-up between the fast food industry and the toothpick industry, because unless you are lucky, or you somehow manage to grind them between your molars, those super-hard little seeds are going straight for the gaps between your teeth.

But that was not my worst experience with sesame seeds. A few years ago I was invited to a swish cocktail party. I know what you are thinking. “But, Gary,” you are thinking. “You are one of the gilded metropolitan elite. You voted Remain in the EU referendum, and you call them napkins, not serviettes. Surely a man of your calibre goes to swish cocktail parties all the time?”

The fact is that I rarely go to swish cocktail parties. In fact, you can count the number of times I have been invited to a swish cocktail party and have been able to attend a swish cocktail party on the fingers of one finger.

Bear in mind that all I knew about gatherings like this was what I had seen on television or in films. An Eastern European waitress passed me, carrying a tray of prosecco flutes. I suavely swiped one from the tray, as James Bond would have done, and headed into the throng.

I spent five minutes trying to find somewhere to put my empty glass down and by that point I was peckish. Luckily, another Eastern European waitress was passing with a tray filled with tiny cones of fish and chips. I swiped one. This really was the life. I felt at one with Rihanna and the late Sir David Frost.

I introduced myself to a group of people at the party. I was devil-may-care, refreshed by a glass of wine, two chips, and a goujon of cod. And as I launched into a sparkling anecdote, I swiped a tiny bite-sized burger from another passing tray.

I popped the slider into my mouth, and then I let out a blood-curdling teeth-jangling scream.

If it had not been for the sesame seeds scattered on it, I expect I would have noticed, sticking out of the top of the bun, the cocktail stick that was holding the whole thing together, and was now connecting my tongue with the roof of my mouth.

And so that is why sesame seeds are dangerous.

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