Keep your e-mails pouring in, it's good to know that there are lots of you out there with views and opinions.
To help you work out what is what, are now little icons to help you see biscuit related themes. And now you can see at a glance which are the most contested subjects via this graph (requires Flash 6.0 plugin).
Please keep your mails coming in to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like, you can use this search thingy to find stuff that matches with any of the icons you pick, or use the fantastic free text search, Yay!
||The fig roll, my favourite biscuit of that there is no doubt. But does anyone recall Jacobs attempt at launching chocolate fig rolls? They were the normal ridged ones of the time that had been propelled through a shallow (c. 1cm?) river of milky chocolate, resulting in the bottom half of each biscuit getting coated. Ooooh! These were fantastic, I was a real fan, but they lasted only about 2-3 months, maybe 6 as I recall, living in the East Midlands of the UK at the time. My favourites now are the extrusion variety you get at large supermarkets and find they improve for a bit of drying out. |
Fig Roll Review
|I'm fairly new to your site, shame on me, so I may have missed out on previous raging debates about fig rolls. Now, I'm quite partial to a cup of tea and a biscuit or two, but am I the only person in the world who thinks that fig rolls are vile? There are very few foody things that I actively dislike, and I like both figs and sponge, but put the two together and yuk! Plonk a pack down in the office and everyone descends on them like a pack of starving dingoes on a fat baby, but even the smell is enough to make my guts do a handstand. Am I alone? Do I need therapy?|
|Nicey replies: The crust on a fig roll is a really more of a sweet pastry than a sponge, unless on the American Fig Newton which is more like sponge that has been battered flat. Don't feel bad about not liking them, think of it as your gift to those of us who love them.|
Your fascinating site reminded me of a biscuit-related enigma which has haunted me since childhood days: the phrase "ship's biscuit". Despite this strikingly anomalous use of the singular, I have always liked to picture generously plural stocks of biscuits stowed in tins, or possibly crates, deep in the hold. Fig rolls would be a healthy choice for a long voyage, although perhaps custard creams might be more comforting. Garibaldi would fit the bill too. Somehow, the more effete chocolate varieties seem ill-suited to a life of rum, sodomy and the lash.
But what exactly was ship's biscuit? Since I am too bone idle to go away and research the whole thing on Google, I wondered what light you might be able to cast on the world of tea-time confectionery in a historical maritime setting.
|Nicey replies: Mary,
A ships biscuit is in fact the ancestral biscuit from which all others sprang and even gave rise to the very word 'biscuit'. As we mention from time to time biscuit comes from two french words 'bis' for twice 'cuit' for cooked. They were so named because biscuit were baked twice a first quick bake to cook then biscuit then a long slow drying bake to preserve it for use as ships rations. Made from simply flour, salt and water, they are not something you want to dunk into your cuppa. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ships biscuit earlier in the year although I had to give it back to its owner. It really wasn't very appetising and looked uncannily like one of those fake doggy turd things. The biscuits are as hard and rock, and it was not uncommon for sailors to break their teeth on them.
||Apologies for the WI type question but does anyone know a recipe for fig rolls? I live in the middle of nowhere in Italy and have changed my eating habits accordingly but occasionally things start calling. The home made tomato ketchup for the home made bacon sarnies was ok but decidedly watery. Now I have 3 big fig trees absolutely laden and fig biscuits are something which my kids are being denied in their admittedly idyllic but proper-biscuit lacking lives. They sell them on the internet I've noticed but at fifteen quid postage I would have to hire a divorce lawyer when the bill came. If it helps to get a level of backwater-ness I made gingerbread men last week with some very dried up old powdered ginger (not nice) and no-one for miles had ever heard of ginger before. And when my husband went to America in January they asked how he would manage with the language.....yours in need. Jo.|
|Nicey replies: Hello Jo,
To make commercial fig rolls you need a big machine for extruding them, so what ever you come up with will inevitably have a bit of a homemade look to it. I think your main challenge is to get your figs to resemble the fig paste inside a fig roll, no doubt beginning with drying them. Maybe you'll have to see if the locals have any fig processing tips you can assimilate. After that you are really into jam rolly-polly territory using a sweet pastry that I think you'll find needs some egg yolk in it.
There is now a new and far superior figgy alternative to Fig Newtons in the U.S.: Fig Newman's, the cleverly named cookie made by Paul Newman's food ompany. The cookie part isn't mealy or soggy and the fig part is plentiful and devoid of that weird oversweet chemical-y taste that Newtons have. Newman's are also organic and uses its profits for Paul Newman's charities. Plus, there's a nice photo of him and his daughter on the package.
And of course, when you are in effect donating the price of the box of cookies to charity, God cancels out the carbohydrates. (Are Britons following Atkins as assiduously as Americans these days?)
|Nicey replies: Barbara,
Thanks for reminding me about Fig Newman's, I had forgotten about them. Nanny Nicey is very keen on Mr Newman, and Fig Rolls.
Not sure about Atkins but right now a large part of the UK seems to be eating pumpkin seeds, courtesy of Dr Gillian McKeith.