If you're an allotment holder you'll have at least heard of Japanese Knotweed. If you're very unlucky you might have had an encounter with this pernicious "weed". It doesn't take many prisoners. It spreads while you look at it and once you have it it's a bugger to get rid of. Google the name and you'll come up with loads of sites promising to eradicate the stuff.
It has a fulsome reputation. Digging up concrete, undermining foundations, raising pavements: it's a super plant. But it's very statuesque: architectural is the word. An ideal plant to tie in your large garden - if you're an Victorian wanting to impress your neighbours.
In the USA it is a more successful Japanese invader than Toyota; and in the lush soils of the UK, a plant that usually scrapes a living on volcanoes, it is in heaven and spreads like wild fire. Hardened gardeners on seeing the stuff will foam at the mouth and make the sign of the cross, swearing to call down the avenging angel upon the demonic intruder.
So it was with some surprise that I discovered a recipe on Brighton's Terre a Terre website which features the weed. The cooks have gone completely overboard: it's full of antioxidants, vitamins galore and loads of minerals (must be crunching up all that concrete and tarmac). Knotweed soufflés no less; mind you it seems to require a load of added ingredients to make it acceptable; but this is progress. Instead of cursing it and spending millions trying to eradicate the stuff we should grow it to feed the masses. Bit like the Triffids in reverse. You'll recall they were initially grown commercially but then got out.
There is a slight hiccup however: there always is. The recipe includes the following:
"NOTE: It is illegal to grow knotweed and to casually dispose of it in the UK - if you wish to cook with it please contact Phlorum regarding dealing with the off cuts and trimmings." Could make an unusual dinner party rather a lot of hard work.
But surely this is the way forward. If there's a pest we hate, rather than trying to wipe it out - flambé it. "Cockroaches a la monde": red ants "devilled"; Kentucky Fried Cane Toad; "locusts au gratin", the list is endless . Anything nasty can be turned into a nutritious meal for the whole family. Nick Griffith wouldn't stand a chance.
At the moment my pet hate is the current Marks and Spencer ad. Just imagine Caroline Quentin munching on a cockroach and retching as she tries to smile "Just Because.."