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I was just sitting here in the US as a Scouser in exile, having a nice cup of tea and a sit down at work, when I came across Peter's email regarding Dundee biscuits.
I remember them clearly as well from my childhood days in Liverpool, and they were gorgeous, huge, chocolatey biscuits! I can't remember the last time I had them, but now they've been mentioned, I remember with fondness their taste.
In the US we can get some decent British biscuits (like chocolate McVitie's and Hob Nobs), but most of what is sold is sub-standard cookie-like efforts. It may be worth your while to take a visit to the US to see the state of the biscuit and tea situation; almost inevitably, you get offered "tea" in dodgy cups with the teabag still in it, and the milk (or, horrors, cream) on the side.
The Americans are, by the way, fascinated by my electric kettle (you know, the type every house in the UK has!) ... they still use whistling kettles on top of the oven - how 19th century!
Anyway, your site is great - a nice way to remember England, and I steer both English and non-English friends to it (for educational purposes, of course).
|Nicey replies: Yes we had a big discussion about electric kettles and America back in September. The conclusions were that even those electric kettles that did exist in the States weren't able to boil water as fast as our Brit kettles due to their weedy 120V electricity. Hoorah! for proper dangerous power supplies. This seemed to explain the barbarous practice of making tea in microwave ovens, prevalent in the US.
As for dodgy American biscuits, Biscuit Enthusiast Mandy has just brought me back a packet of something with peanut butter in, from New York. I have to have a sneaking regard for the Americans ingenuity in getting rid of their mountains of surplus peanut butter. Perhaps anybody driving one of those odd looking Chrysler Roadsters around the UK might want to get the door panels off just in case the Yanks have stashed a few gallons of spare crunchy peanut butter in there.
||The dilemma of course for you discerning tea drinkers who're subjected by your 'orrible employers to the out-bleltchings of these disgusting drinks-vending (even if they're free) machines is that you're actually being cared for in a responsible, compassionate way! The risk of injury to employees who haven't attained GNVQ level 5 in manually manouvering 0.7litres of water over a horizontal distance of 0.28m and +or- 0.31m in a vertical direction contained in a vessel constructed from metal or non thermo-softening polymer at temperatures above that which would under circumstances, occuring more than once every Preston Guild, cause injury to unprotected, naked flesh, is so high that yon employer's insurers insist upon the installation of said machinery for the avoidance of such hazards in the preparation of occasional refreshments for workers who would otherwise fade away. So don't moan about it you lily-livered whinge mongerers; be grateful that you work for a responsible, caring company who are trying their best to avoid having the arse sued off them.|
Why not 'aveanicecanoffizzydrink
|Nicey replies: I think most people would rather sign a waiver saying they are prepared to use a kettle and their own sensible mug rather than cope with floppy cups of not quite scalding 'drink' (term used loosely).|
Now this is doing my head in...
When I was a kid (32 now, so you're looking at a fair while ago) I used to love these things called Dundee biscuits. I've scoured the net but all I seem to find are these little brown things with what look suspiciously like almonds on the top, and these are most definitely not what I'm looking for. The Dundee biscuits I remember were as follows:
1. Sold in stacks of five or six, wrapped as per Eccles cakes (i.e. in clear cellophane);
2. Approx. 3-4 inches across (as a kid this would have been 12-18 inches);
3. Shortbread-type base;
4. Circular, with a slightly crimped edge;
5. Rich chocolatey topping;
6. Chunky grains of sugar stuck to the underside;
7. The word DUNDEE visible on the underside (standing proud rather than embossed), written in a rugby-ball shape, so the initial D and trailing E were smaller than the rest, the central ND the biggest of all letters.
This is now kind of a mission in life for me - to find Dundee biscuits still on sale somewhere. Some of my friends and family remember them well and have joined me on my quest, scouring local supermarkets wherever they go, whilst others think I have lost my mind and am making it all up, but I am not.
So do you know anything of these biscuits? If so, please help!
|Nicey replies: Peter,
I never had a Dundee biscuit but I have received other but much less detailed emails about them. Perhaps I should just make a new Missing In Action entry based on your excellent description.
I have just recently changed jobs and now have my hot drinks provided for by a nescafe machine.
Before my contract ended at my last job (I was a temp previously). Everyone in the building (all 16 of us) would stop twice daily to have the tea made in a great big metal tea pot and which point it was annouced over the tannoy that "tea's ready", and everyone would either sit outside if it was fine, or all squeeze into the kitchen and have a natter.
After sampling the tea from the aforementioned machine, I found it comes with a bag with a little foil strip attached. Aha I thought perhaps maybe they've discovered how to make a decent cuppa! However, not only does it taste foul, but the machine makes a strange buzzing noise whenever you ask it for sugar. For some reason, it doesn't like you adding your sugar after you have made your drink, (like most people do) but you actually have to put it in before any tepid water has been added to the powdery mix of your choice in the bottom of a paper cup.
I've now realised that not only does the machine force you to either go without any decent form of hot drink, (the drinks are never hot), sugar (if you forget it in the first place and at which point have to ask it for another drink just to get your sugar fix) but the water inside has been there for days!! Its only ever topped up when it flashes "fill" but never replaced! (bleeurrghh!).
I have tried hunting down a kettle and a mug in order to make a brew but with no luck, as I didn't fancy drinking the tea and catching cholera or some other water borne disease whilst at work.
Thankfully I'm lucky enough to be able to pop back home at lunchtime for a nice cup of co-op 99 tea (same nice people friendly principles as Fairtrade tea, but about half the price) and a sit down although I've now had to cut my tea drinking down to about 4 cups a day! :(
I wonder how many other evil machines have stale tepid water in them, waiting for some poor unsuspecting sod to keel over before they begin to take over the world and plan to rid us of our kettles forever...
As a devotee of the finest hot beverages, I was wondering what your opinion of cup-a-soup was? Not strictly to do with either tea, or biscuits, but the occasional sit down with a cup-a-soup can make a refreshing and savoury change.
|Nicey replies: Ben,
The Wife has the odd cuppa soup now and again, we probably consume on average 2 to three four packs a year. One a month, which is probably a dangerously high intake.