Published: 06:00, 23 September 2021
| Updated: 12:53, 17 October 2021
Last Christmas you gave us your word, but the very next day you took it away.
This year, we were in the clear, but instead supplies of CO2 are at crisis point and we might not get any turkey!
My other half is always telling me off for getting the lyrics wrong.
A year on from some proper pandemic festivities, 2021's celebrations were set to make up for lost time.
But nothing is straightforward these days and now the Turkey King, Ranjit Singh Boparan, says Christmas is at risk of being cancelled!
And while the CO2 crisis may have been averted thanks to government intervention, the continuing gas price chaos and ongoing food supply problems means we're far from out of the woods.
Without CO2 we cannot 'humanely slaughter' animals, which makes things even more morally tricky for a meat eater.
But I'm a *checks notes* serious journalist and this is a food review, so I'm determined to find a culinary solution.
Now, like it or not, the most obvious way to handle a meat shortage is by turning your back on animals for your sustenance.
This means embracing a plant-based diet. In Maidstone that's easier said than done.
Or at least it was, until The Rainbow Skull was towed into town.
The last time I arrived in the car park of The White Horse in London Road I was clad in a Christmas jumper and falling out of a taxi.
It was for a rugby club Christmas social and the night – soundtracked by warbling festive karaoke – ended in a heavily-muscled South African launching himself WWF-style on to my friend's leg – and breaking it.
Much has changed since then, I'm now nervous around heavily-muscled South Africans and have grown increasingly more open minded when it comes to diet.
So, it was fitting my return to said pub car park would be to visit The Rainbow Skull, a vegan grill truck dreamed up and run by people who would almost certainly baulk at the oxymoronic phrase 'humanely slaughtered'.
Specialising in burgers, the van fills a gap in the market in Maidstone for a genuine plant-based option.
Not since Fortify, a terrific cafe in High Street, and the brief existence of a pop-up kitchen at riverside pub Drakes has the town had a specialist takeaway for vegans (correct me in the comments if wrong).
And while not exactly central, it's not far out and there's plenty of parking if you, like me, are OK with polluting the environment with your car before saving it with your dinner order.
Since first eating a vegan burger five years ago I have grown to love them.
In fact, in a twist worthy of my friends, family and butchers across the land disowning me, I now think they're tastier than their meat cousins.
There's no risk of gristle, more flavour and more variety.
Even McDonald's and KFC are entering the market. So it was only right that we headed to the The Rainbow Skull's website and ordered its homage to the fast food giants.
We battled our way through Maidstone's perpetual traffic nightmare towards our 6.15pm date with meat-free heaven.
We passed a balaclava-clad teenager on an electric scooter who looked like he might be on his way to rob a bank, but we had bigger fish to fry – the Big Mock and KFT Stinger Stack (both £8.95) were waiting.
Also included in our order were a small (enough for two) side of sweet potato fries (£2) and a side of BIFFS© peri peri jackfruit wingz (£5.95).
Arriving slightly early we were welcomed by a friendly face and invited to plonk ourselves down on a pub bench underneath a large marquee (there are also tables inside).
I headed into the pub to order a London Pride and pint of Diet Pepsi (£7.60).
This is a proper boozer with a community feel, which caters for a different type of punter to The Rainbow Skull.
À la Secret Drinker I am pleased to report the toilets, while existing in a time warp complete with battered fun vending machine, are clean and airy.
Our food arrived together, in good time and to the subtle soundtrack of an acoustic Foo Fighters cover emanating from inside the van.
The Big Mock featured "two quarter pound soy-based burgers, in a triple stacked bun, with burger cheese, gherkins, fresh onion, lettuce and home made burger sauce", explains the website, adding "I'm lovin' it!" in case you don't get the name first time round.
First things first it is disconcertingly realistic, to the point where an initial blind taste test would prove inconclusive.
Secondly, it's a slow burner but by the fifth bite I'm in love.
It's a big undertaking to get it finished and so like its namesake it's a wonder Ronald McDonald hasn't come knocking with a lawyers letter.
Even the questionable structural integrity – the only negative – is in keeping.
The KFT Stinger Stack is made up of crispy tofu seasoned with eleven herbs and spices, two hash browns, hot sauce, mayo and lettuce.
Simply put it's "to die for" according to my tasting accomplice, who became nostalgic about her non-vegetarian days at KFC while devouring it.
I had a bite and can wholeheartedly endorse her statement, uttered after just one bite.
Quite how the team at The Rainbow Skull have recreated fried chicken so convincingly while working with tofu is beyond me, but they've done it with aplomb.
Turning to the accompaniments and I am pleased to report my long run of never being disappointed by sweet potato fries is intact.
The wingz were big, comforting and tasty enough but while the fake blue cheese dip that accompanied them was packed with flavour they were the poor relation.
Ratings out of five
Food: On the whole, incredible. If I'm being picky the wingz weren't great ****1/2
Drink: An average pint of London Pride at a reasonable price ***
Decor: It's a pub car park with a pretty view of industrial Maidstone (if you're into that type of thing). The bar was dingy but that's how I like them. ***
Staff: Very friendly and despite an endless stream of customers remained calm *****
Price: Two burgers, a side, fries and a drink were £33.45. The £5.95 wingz were on the steep side. ***