Gourmets across Britain are downing their cutlery in protest today, after the passing of controversial new legislation banning all restaurants from selling a particular dish unless the customer can properly pronounce the name of said meal.
Designed to encourage the use of local food suppliers, the Culinary Language Standards Act requires that restaurant staff 'ascertain the linguistic competency of their patrons' when taking an order, only agreeing to produce what the customer desires if it is deemed, 'after taking into account regional dialects,' to have been pronounced correctly.
Billed as the government's attempt to improve the general public's grasp of foreign languages, whilst simultaneously encouraging greater interaction with the migrant workforce, many critics see the legislation as positive prejudice towards traditional British culture at the expense of other ethnic groups. 'We're losing money hand over fist,' complained Iqbal Quadir, head of the Birmingham Restaurateurs Association. 'Only the other day I had to throw out a customer before he even got to his starter - you try ordering poppadoms when you've got a stutter...'
Nattawut Prasobsuk, proprietor of the Bangkok Palace, Leatherhead, echoed this sentiment: 'We offer an exquisite fusion menu inspired by the most exotic dishes of the far east, but it's no use preparing a dozen batches of sauce for our Gaeng Kiew Wan when none of our customers has even the slightest smattering of Thai - in fact most of the people around here can barely say 'half rice, half chips' once they've had a few Singhas on board.'
Many businesses are however actively benefitting from the new law, with fish and chip shops reported to be doing a roaring trade. 'This is brilliant news,' exclaimed Barry Prentice of the Leeds Fish Fryers Guild, 'fish, chips, pie - great British monosyllabic food is back on the menu!'
Educational bodies are also making the most of the legislation, with evening classes in conversational French, Italian and Greek seeing a tenfold increase in students, while certain canny entrepreneurs are offering courses in Mandarin, Turkish and Bengali for frustrated diners, with special rates for those attending after closing time.
For Downing Street this is proof enough of the efficacy of the Culinary Language Standards Act: 'On one hand the market for home-grown produce has been stimulated beyond imagination, while on the other hand the British public are becoming more multilingual than any previous generation in recorded history,' boasted a government spokesman. 'Gone are the days when you would just poke at a list and say 'number 38 please', which is quite ironic really, considering that's how we selected this particular white paper in the first place.'