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|Alan (Fred) Pipes
When I was in Edinburgh recently, I attended a Farmers Market and discovered a local or regional biscuit called the perkin. The ones I subsequently purchased were oatmeal-based, large, round, crisp yet crumbly, rustic looking and tasting of ginger and treacle, tho strangely no ginger was included on the list of ingredients. They were made by Oatmeal of Alford, and possibly fall into the category of luxury/home-made/vernacular (tho they did come in a sealed cellophane packet with printed label). I believe you can buy them on the internet, tho at a considerably higher price than the 80p I paid the maker/stallholder. Unfortunately I ate them all before finding this website, so no images are available. Try them when North of the Border.
On dunking: I find the round Rich Tea makes for a pleasant dunking experience -- fill up your mug (of a diameter less than that of the biscuit) with hot tea and make your first dunk. You'll find that only the smallest
sector (or is it segment -- can't remember my basic geometry) gets soggy as obviously the whole biscuit cannot be immersed. This can be nibbled off daintily and the rest of it, now narrow enough to fully immerse, can be
|Nicey replies: Fred,
Thanks for the tip of about Perkins, they sound tasty, perhaps someone North of the Border can get us a picture.
As for the round rich tea progressive dunk, thanks for reminding us all of that important technique. As the tea gets drunk it can sometimes require up to three preliminary dunks before complete dunkage can be achieved.
Rich Tea Review
Just thought I'd take the time to say what a great site! It rocks. I particularly like the scanned in photos of biscuits, they're almost gratiuitous, like biscuit pornography, but I love them. They're great as desktop backgrounds - put them on tile though, not centre, or they look lonely...
Anyway, the reason I'm writing is - I have to protest! I normally regard your reviews of biscuits as the voice of an expert, and something to view with great respect. However, I must comment on your rich tea review. I agree that rich tea were, of course, designed for dunking, and any attempt to sully them with other ingredients such as cream, chocolate, jam etc. should definitely be avoided. However, I must digress over two points.
1.) The classic 'round' rich tea is far superior and always will be to fingers. Fingers, when dunked, risk complete tea saturation along an entire cross section of the biscuit, causing breakage and ultimately, unfortunate collapse into the tea leaf based beverage. The biscuit and the tea then become one sad mess, and it is useless to try to fight this process by attempting to retrieve the biscuit remant from the tea. The best plan of action is to throw the tea/biscuit mixture away and start again, preferably with a new ROUND biscuit. The round version is also, of course, far more aesthetically pleasing, although I realise that this is a matter of taste. There are also those of us who regard the decorations on the sides of the finger variant as 'overly fancy'. Enough said. I think most biscuit lovers would also argue that the ventilation holes in the fingers are unnecessarily dense, and probably put there more for show than function.
2.) The taste of rich tea is fantastic! Try to think of them not as dry, but 'crisp'. Not as bland but 'classic'. I hope you can see my point of view.
I would also like to mention the relationship between rich tea and builders. Builders biscuit of choice is the rich tea. They do seem to particularly enjoy dunking, but I suspect that maybe it goes deeper than that. Maybe the admire the construction of the rich tea? When my parents had their extension built in 1989 the builders would not start work until presented with a daily packet of rich tea and hot tetley. Other biscuits were left on the plate. Even Mrs Locke from no. 48 and a plate of cakes seemed secondary to the option of rich tea. They didn't do that good a job actually, but I'm sure you can't blame the rich tea for that.
I also have a quick question - in your review of wagon wheels you did not mention anything about the size of the biscuit in relation to other points in time. Many people I speak to believe that the size of a wagon wheel is inversely proportional with time (i.e. they used to be bigger) but it is hard for me to judge this myself as I have only just finished growing. This, of course, means that what I believe is a shrinking biscuit may in fact be an optical abboration caused by my relative size to the marshmellow based product. I would be most grateful if you could clear this matter up!
That's it anyway, keep up the good work.
p.s - The point about humility is certainly true.
|Nicey replies: Pete,
Thanks for those Rich Tea thoughts, your point about the builders is a particularly well made. Indeed there are some that think the finger too fancy, however in a side by side tasting we found them to be slightly tastier.
As far as Wagon Wheel size I tackle that classic point in the second paragraph.
||I just thought I'd let you know that in a recent trip to Brussels, I had a|
very nice cup of tea and a sit down at the Metropole Hotel over breakfast.
The toast was nice too.
|Nicey replies: Tom,
Fantastic news on the breakfast time sit down. Was there any Marmite to be seen? I have a theory on geo location using Marmite enjoyment to estimate latitude and biscuit quality for longitude. My theory predicts the Belgians would like Marmite a bit possibly with some cheese.
|Alan (Fred) Pipes
I was horrified the other day to find that KitKat have abandoned the recyclable foil and paper packaging on their two-finger biscuits in multi-packs in favour of the all-in-one plastic sachet - bad marketing move Nestle, in these days of emerging ecological awareness!!
|Nicey replies: Quite.
Same thing goes for the Club biscuit which used to have a foil and paper wrapper, with outer printed paper tube, and now ships in a plastic sack.
I don't believe a word of Phil's "Jamais de Guerre" story (despite it's genius). As I have a spare 40 years I investigated and discovered the following:
"Quite where the name jammie dodger comes from is unclear. One possibility is that 'jammie dodger' is a term given when playing childrens games like tag or hide-and-seek to denote someone who is a particularly lucky player in being undetected or untouched. Some clever biscuit executive may have got hold of the term and invented the biscuit around it. Whatever the reason, it is a fine biscuit and part and parcel of every great afternoon tea break."
I prefer Phil's story though.