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Custard Cream Review
I live in France. On the whole it's a good place but when it comes to tea and biscuits the country has really let itself down and has much to learn about both. This means that I have to go to the British section of the local supermarket to stock up which gets me funny looks by other people in the shop. The other day however, I was chuffed to bits when I saw a shipment of Custard Creams had come in and that I could buy a double pack for one Euro which I thought was a bargain. I bought 2 packs and headed home to the kettle immediately.
Initially I ate only about 3 but this soon became 6 in only a few minutes causing Mrs Wife to impose sanctions and hide them (oddly in jar marked "Chocolat" so I found them immediately). But then a funny thing happened. About twenty minutes later while working at my computer, I suddenly came
over all drowsy and then nodded off completely. I don't do the most interesting job in the world but I can usually stay awake. I didn't think too much about it until I was watching a Bond film on Sunday afternoon with a big cup of lovely proper English Tea and 4 custard creams. I never saw the end of the film because I fell asleep again. Today, I had more custard creams in the afternoon (Mrs Wife couldn't see how many I had but I did the biscuit eating world proud) and about 45 minutes later I fell asleep again - for an hour! This was very unusual for me and has led me to believe that I have unearthed a useful sedative property of the mainstay that is the Custard Cream. I was so pleased with my discovery that I grabbed the pack for more information and found that I had eaten Parkside Custard Creams. Some interweb research informs me that this means that they've come from Lidl. So, now I'm wondering if any of your readers have experienced the same thing with Lidl biscuits? Having read stories on your site of people having sleepless nights over tea and biscuit related issues, this could be
the answer they've been waiting for. Those genius biscuit makers. Whatever will they think of next?
All the best
|Nicey replies: Joe,
First well done on living in France. I always think that most of things we British do in France, including living in it, come as a bit of a surprise to it. They perform a useful service, helping to keep the whole place on its toes rather than sinking into a Gallic drowse. Drinking tea absolutely anywhere other than in a Salon de The seems to do the trick. Certainly striding around with a big enamel mug of the stuff a couple of fig rolls always gets me noticed. Having just got back from a few days over there, I have to say making French things into curries also gives me an overwhelming sense of 'France wasn't expecting that'.
So on those Custard Creams. Indeed they emanate from Lidls and therefore were probably made by United Biscuits, (McVities/Crawfords/Jacobs). As such Lidls wouldn't have much to do with their specification apart from a price-point. I suspect that you may be experiencing some effect caused by eating them in France. Perhaps your British metabolism is going into some sort of hibernation state. This could be due to the stress of having to eat all that semi-raw meat, heavy sauces and sharp jabby pointy crusty bread. Having at last had some proper tea and biscuits perhaps you body is trying to conserve these precious resources by entering a torpid resting phase.
Happily the advice would seem to be to eat ore of them till you get used to them again.
| Chris Arnold
I work as a hospital chaplain here in Oakland California, a city which has its problems. I am also a British ex-pat, although I've been living here since I was 8 so I've lost the accent, unfortunately. I'll have you know that very early this morning I was robbed of my wallet by two gun-wielding men. Physically I'm fine. Emotionally I'm a bit wobbly. I'm currently following my mum's advice, which is that I have a nice cup of tea and a sit down. This, naturally, made me think of you.
Now, she said that the rules are that when tea is administered for a crisis, it is properly to be sweetened, even when not normally consumed this way. Is this a protocol with which you are familiar? (I take milk, and PG Tips is my bog-standard brand)
Wishing you a gun-free day,
|Nicey replies: Chris,
Yes indeed people in shock get given sweet tea whether they want it or not, that is the British way. Either it will fortify and comfort you, or if you find yourself struggling to drink the unaccustomedly sweetened brew at least its taking your mind off the matter at hand.
Chin up. At least that San Andreas fault thingy across the bay has gone off recently, that could really ruin your day.
As Which seem to have got the mince pie survey side of Christmas covered this year will you be doing a group stollen test so that we can make informed purchasing decisions in that market during the forthcoming festive season?
I seem to recall that you have floated the idea in the past...
|Nicey replies: Chris you're right. I did make a special noise last night next to the stollen's in Tesco. I think this idea might have finally come of age as I have found myself gainfully employed once more which means I have many new work mates on which to road test such large tea time treats and therefore up the cake review bandwidth.|
Malted Milk Review
With a new baby due imminently, we've been making all the necessary preparations for the birth (rusks etc). At an ante-natal class we were given a list of things to take to hospital. This included the item: "favourite biscuits." I'm sure like most of your readers, we have different favorites for different situations. I wonder if you have any suggestions what would be suitable? Presumably it's got to be good biscuit in a crisis -- something that offers plenty of energy in case of a long labour, but not one that will melt all over the bed sheets in the warmth of a hospital.
|Nicey replies: Hello Barry,
Well it sounds like you are already on top of most of the important aspects of biscuit selection, although I would say crumbs are another aspect to keep in mind. What ever you bring along will probably be very welcome. To be honest I seem to remember that it was me who ate all the biscuits as Wifey wasn't really in a biscuit mood. I also seem to recall that I went out on a limb and brought Cadbury's Chocolate fingers, a very non-standard biscuit for us.
Thinking about it rationally and with hindsight I would have probably gone for some fig rolls, malted milks and possibly a small pack of digestives, although modern post-hydogenated fat Digestives are very crumbly. However, something that shouldn't be overlooked was the on tap supply of NHS tea and toasted sliced white with Golden Shred marmalade that was available when the YMOS made their debut.
I recent years we have taken to baking large NCOTAASD fruitcakes for our friends when the have their own younger members of staff. In fact Mr ad Mrs T are due YMOS No 2 in about 6 weeks time and Mrs T is already making space in her cake tin.
Another thing to watch out for is that fact that post birth you'll be all over the show and may well not be entirely capable of making rational biscuit choices due to excitement, warm fuzzy feelings, lack of sleep and confusion as the Wife sends you out to buy all sorts of strange things you've never heard of before down aisles of the supermarket you didn't even know existed.
Custard Cream Review
Like the sound of the Credit Crunch biscuit idea. It could be made more authentic by selling it at normal pack price but then reducing the price over the following couple of weeks until consumer nervousness results in a limited edition rescue package being launched. Do you think the government would step in as readily should McVities or Fox’s become in danger of going under as they have done with the banking sector? I rather think not, however, the average Brit would probably just as concerned with a lack of Hob Nobs as they would with their savings being in danger....or is that just me?
|Nicey replies: Hello Jim,
Surely biscuits can ride out the consumer downturn. We have heard it widely reported that McVities are selling more Custard Creams than this time last year as people downsize from more extravagant biscuits. Personally I think this is terrific news. Obviously people have been buying biscuits beyond their means on credit for the last several years, where as now they are making wiser and more sustainable biscuit decisions.