Rob Rinder: My dance shoes are locked away but a jiggle with B*witched brings me back to twirling ecstasy

·3-min read
 (Natasha Pszenicki)
(Natasha Pszenicki)

I was heartbroken to hear about the death of one of my comedy heroes yesterday: the peerless Jackie Mason. He told one of my favourite ever Jewish jokes. “Did you know Jews invented sushi?” he’d drawl in his inimitable accent. “That’s right — two Jews bought a restaurant with no kitchen…”

It was a joke that had actually been bobbing through my head last week after I’d nipped into a fabulous new restaurant called Jiji. They’ve done something I’d have never thought possible… taken two insanely different culinary cultures — Middle-Eastern and Japanese — and melded them into something so crazily delicious my mouth almost exploded.

Up until then, I’d always had my doubts about fusion cuisine. In my experience it had almost always ended up being what my grandma (and probably Jackie, too) would call ongepotchket — it’s Yiddish word for utterly, needlessly complicated. Dishes plucked willy-nilly from across the planet get lazily smooshed together and before you know what’s what, you’re staring down your fork at vindaloo burritos, haggis pizzas and rendang trifle with sauerkraut sorbet.

But Jiji — blending Israeli food’s hummusy heft with the exquisite delicacy of Japanese (some of the best sushi I’ve had outside Japan) — reminded me that when it works, it really works. The key to fusion cuisine (and about a million other things) is respect… when chefs truly honour the traditions of national cuisine (rather than acting like gastronomic toddlers at some global pick-and-mix) — there’s simply no limit on how gorgeous it can get.

After Strictly, dance cardio has brought me back to a state of twirling ecstasy

I’m often asked if I carried on dancing after my little twinkly-toed stint on Strictly … where I got all the way to a very creditable quarter final (or, as my grandma used to say, “fourth runner-up”).

The answer’s a sorrowful no. Without my glorious Oksana shouting at me in Russian (and a dedicated gang slathering me in bronzer), it’s been hard to summon the old gusto.

That was until I found a gym doing classes in something called dance cardio. They’re not paying me to say this but the good people at Frame Fitness have managed to bring me back to a state of twirling ecstasy… regular buckets of serotonin get pumped into my bloodstream as I twerk my stuff to Single Ladies or jiggle my way through B*witched’s C’est La Vie. My co-hoofers look on with barely disguised panic, but by the time we’re all done, I’m a delighted sweaty mess.

It’s also reminded me of how excitedly I am looking forward to winter— when I can swap the scorching sunshine for the sequiny sizzle of Strictly’s return. Prepare yourself Giovanni Pernice — all this throwing myself about the dance floor has got me gagging for a Christmas special tango

The atmosphere at the Euros final was disturbing

I got pretty excited about the football … seeing Southgate’s squad unite the nation was inspiring. Thanks to the lovely chaps at Attitude, I even managed to wangle a seat at the final and popped down to Wembley with Matt Lucas and Benedict Cumberbatch.

But the atmosphere was disturbing. What with the anthem-booing and rushing of the barriers, it felt grim from almost the moment I arrived. Then, as the game developed, there was a sense of throbbing menace that left me dismayed, and the racism that followed on social media was even worse. Of course the pushback against this hatred by the majority of fans has been tremendous.

But the whole thing did leave me feeling deflated. We can’t let it happen again.

What do you think of fusion cuisine? Let us know in the comments below.

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