Semolina watches over all forms of institutional food whether in schools, workplaces, hospitals or prisons. Basically, anywhere that barely non-toxic dull grey slop is doled out onto plastic trays. Semolina ensures a place in paradise for those who clear their own table. Fryday is her holy day, when eating chips is permitted. Usually depicted as a lady of middle years, with a slightly frazzled demeanour. Pink custard flows through her veins.
Her temple is furnished with long tables, dented metal water jugs and stackable plastic chairs. The high altar resembles a long counter. It may well be the only altar to feature a sneeze guard. Her priestesses stand behind the altar to deliver the service. Above the altar the acronym S.U.A.E.I.* is inscribed in chalk on a blackboard, along with the two choices for that day’s fare; Take-It or Leave-It. A typical rite lasts around half an hour and involves 25 minutes of queuing and 5 minutes to scoff down a sacrament.
Behind the scenes the signature “barely non-toxic dull grey slop” is created by processing vast quantities of fungus. This takes place in the mush room. This mess is supposedly specifically formulated to build healthy bodies whilst dulling excitable urges. In a modern bid for healthier eating, salads are now also served (the only other vegetable on offer is ketchup). It is considered very auspicious to find a caterpillar in your salad (as it shows that it’s real). It is considered a very bad omen to find half a caterpillar in your salad.
Though the entree may be a penance, the dessert is always divine. The closely guarded sacred texts of Semolina house the secret recipes for childhood delights such as Chocolate Concrete and Gypsy Tart (these dishes were named to downplay their deliciousness to those not initiated into the religion). The recipes are, in fact, all very similar. They mostly involve using evaporated milk to glue sugar together.
Priestesses of Semolina can be recognised by the wearing of the Holy Hair-Net of Cantina. They undergo rigorous training before their ordination, including learning to make ice cream in little plastic pots at sundae school and how to inject jam into a donut. One should always treat the priests and priestesses of Semolina with great deference and respect as they will be touching your food and deciding your portion. They are renowned for strictly enforcing proper behaviour inside their temple. They are a fearsome foe to the rowdy. People who transgress from correct behaviour will be sent to the back of the line. A food fight is considered to be a holy war. The current High Priestess is Marie Bain.
Many high profile professional chefs have attempted to reform the faith of Semolina by improving their culinary skills of the priesthood. Though some seemed to make initial headway, all ultimately failed. They are however, warmly respected for at least trying. The faith was perilously threatened some business investors who attempted to take over and run Semolina’s temples for monetary gain. These people were eventually cast out and are now derided as false profits.
The ethos of the faith of Semolina is that all within an institution will be united in solidarity by the hatred of the food. From the pupils, through the IT department who drop in for a quick byte, to the Maths teachers who come for
a meal2. They are all bonded in a universal loathing and so community spirit is fostered. Some say that following the way of Semolina is a piece of cake…
…but only if you’ve finished your vegetables.
Thank you to Xander Kennard for suggesting Semolina.
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* Shut up and eat it.