PETER HAIN must have been left pondering the strange life of a politician last night as he found himself in the news for a peculiar little "Aga saga" rather than the major Northern Ireland issues he currently has on his plate.
The Secretary of State for Wales and Northern Ireland, running for the post of Deputy Prime Minister, told Aga Magazine food cooked on an electric cooker now tasted "second class" by comparison with the upmarket cooker, in what he must have regarded as a rather bland, inoffensive, run-of-the-mill interview.
But his views on ovens have managed to cause a stir among certain political pundits.
The fun being poked in a London gossip columns, BBC's Good Morning Wales radio show and a political blog are likely to be regarded as the stuff of nonsense by Hain who is by now well used to the unpredictable taste of the media.
The Hello!-style article provides a rare glimpse into the domestic life of Mr Hain and his businesswoman wife Elizabeth Haywood.
Illustrated with a pair of photographs showing the couple standing, with a mix of pride and awkwardness, next to their two-oven British racing green Aga, Mr Hain says, "At first I was a bit sceptical about the Aga. I thought it was a great big lump. But now I actually think it's fantastic. We found food cooked on the electric cooker tasted very second class."
He also goes on to recount his favourite recipe: Aga-cooked marinated tuna steak with onion, garlic and spices.
With a soundbite that is more Gordon Ramsay than Gordon Brown, he added, "It makes a delicious and easy recipe, which is low-fat and great at the end of a long day."
The interview, depicting the couple drawing up their weekly shopping list, describes the pair's Neath home as two refurbished barns that are "substantial with five bedrooms and a dance floor". The couple also reveal how they remodelled the kitchen when they moved into the property 16 months ago, so that the Aga was kept as the main focus of the room. Because the iconic Aga range of cookers conjures up associations of luxury, associated with Middle England Tory heartlands, critics have enjoyed poking fun at Mr Hain's Aga-love as being at odds with his man-of-the-people image. Reconditioned models can set you back a cool £3,500.
Even the extensive lexicon inspired by the expensive ovens speaks of decadence, whether it be the "Aga sagas" of writers like Jilly Cooper and Joanna Trollope, or the punning image of the wealthy "Aga Can" class.
So political commentators have gleefully claimed incongruity.
BBC Wales' Parliamentary correspondent David Cornock, writing on his blog, sarcastically noted, "Perhaps it is time for a crusade to rescue the people of Britain from 'second class' food. Let them eat Mr Hain's favourite marinated tuna steaks."
Mr Hain, perhaps with bigger fish to fry, unsurprisingly declined to comment yesterday.
The real Aga saga - page 2