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Custard Cream Review
|I said to people in my job that Custard Creams are probably the nicest biscuit ever. (I was being nice by saying probably. They ARE the nicest biscuit ever). To which he replied with a derisory voice - 'you must have had a deprived childhood'. Absolute rubbish. Custard Creams are a fine example of whats right in the world. Dignified and reliable. Even the cheaper ones are still a decent quality. And a biscuit with a baroque design deserves all the plaudits. No underhanded tactics with fancy names the Custard Cream says what it is (sort of) and delivers it in a classy way. I can even dunk them. Oh and my job provides free biscuits and, yes that's right. There's custard creams there. That's why I won't leave. (sort of)|
|Nicey replies: The custard cream is a classic biscuit whose stature in the biscuit world cannot be undone with a throw away snide comment. Indeed such biscuits (the bourbon, digestive, rich tea to name but a few) have transcended into another realm of biscuit existence which goes far beyond any partisan company allegiances, fads or standard product lifetime curves. They are now timeless classics whose purity of design and purpose can put us back in touch with the essence of a cuppa and a sit down. Those who are blinkered and unwilling to appreciate such glorious simplicity have our sympathy.
||Dear Mr Nicey|
I have been enjoying a nasty cup of tea (office drinks machine) and a sit down while perusing your fine site. I happened upon the pink wafer controversy and it reminded me of a rather surprising tale. The memsahib's great-aunt, an inveterate hoarder, died a couple of years ago and off the little woman went with her mother and sister to help clear out the house. Much memorabilia was found, classified and disposed of to relatives or the local orphanage, among it an envelope marked in immaculate copper-plate handwriting, "biscuit brought back by Cecil [the aunt's sister] from Buckingham Palace garden party, 1954".
Well, nestling limply in the papery bosom of the envelope was...a pink wafer! I have seen said wafer with my own eyes and can swear to its pinkness. I was surprised less by the aunt's keeping of a biscuit for 50 years (I had early in my relationship with the memsahib been ambushed by her father into eating a Carlsbad plum of similar vintage and the same provenance) as by the fact that at a social event of such high cachet the biscuity entertainments could stretch no further than what I have always considered the cheapest and nastiest of biscuits.
Perhaps the answer lies in postwar austerity and sugar rationing?
|Nicey replies: It's also a bit scary that it was still pink after 50 years in an envelope. I expect the Queen opened up a few hundred tins of Rover assortment, hence the Pink Wafers. Although it does make you wonder what became of all the biscuit tins?|
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
Further to my recent e-mail on the subject of Tifin, I have made further enquiries and found the definition on Wikipedia to be much more helpful than my own dictionary,giving a full account of all of the various uses of the word.
Regarding Tiffin the cake (and I use the classification loosely), my colleagues and I decided to embark on a quest to find the finest example of the breed. Samples from Waitrose, Tesco, Bon Viveur and a home made version were offered for comment and the general consensus seemed to be that the Waitrose version was slightly superior to the others.
The best comment came form Vicki who said, on the subject of classification, "It's trying to be a brownie, but someone's shoved a cherry up it". This sums up the whole Tiffin experience very nicely and has led me to conclude that cheries are an essential ingredient in distinguishing between Tiffin and "Chocolate Refrigerator Cake", the latter being the closest thing to Tiffin I could find at M&S.
Interest in the subject is running high in the office, so it was decided that we should have a Tiffin "bake-off" next week to find the best Tiffin recipe.
There wil be 6 entrants and a judging pannel consisting of the more noteable cake / biscuit eaters in the department.
The contest has been scheduled for 11:00 in an attempt to revive the fine old tradition of "elevenses".
I will endeavour to send you some pictures of the winning entry after the event.
|Nicey replies: Your cause is a noble and just one.|
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
I saw your book in the library the other day and borrowed it, and now I am going to buy copies for many members of my family who would really enjoy it. Well done, a really good read with lots of truly vital information, as you will be well aware.
But I had to write to ask if anyone knows anything about Milk and Honey Creams. I doubt there was much honey in them, and possibly not any milk, but for me they will always be the quintessence of a jam sandwich cream biscuit. Slightly toffee flavour jam (the so-called "honey") and vanilla "milk". Do you think people were put off by the possible extreme messiness of a Milk and Honey Sandwich? Maybe if it was explained that it was really a toffee and vanilla biscuit then Huntley and Palmers, or whoever they call themselves now, would produce it again, thus taking me back to my childhood and doubtless providing much pleasure to those whose childhoods were bereft of this wonderful biscuit.
I like the website too by the way. I live near Belfast and we recently had a Christmas market featuring stalls from all over Europe, but most of my money went to the Breton cake stall. Apple buns, almond slices, chocolate tart, all wonderful. Sadly the market was only there for 3 weeks so I did not have time to eat every item on sale, so maybe I will have to go on holiday to Brittany like you did.
Keep up the good work!
|Nicey replies: Hello Hilary,
Yes I just about remember Milk and Honey's, amongst my earliest biscuit memories, I must have been about 3 or 4 years old. My Auntie Edna had some and they very different to the Crawfords Custard Creams which would have been my benchmark biscuit at the time. At the time she lived in a large old Essex weatherboard house called Clements Hall. I remember eating Milk and Honey's as we went to watch a bonfire in the very overgrown grounds of the place, all sat in a disused tram car that had been salvaged from Southend Piers's light railway. Apparently it's all gone now, I think it burnt down, and a leisure centre has been built there.
Although it is part of our missing in action section I have heard tale that Milk and Honeys which like many Huntley and Palmer biscuits were produced under licence around the world, are still made in Malaysia.
As for living near Belfast, the same can be said of Wifey's family. In fact Grandma Wifey's unrelenting one woman PR blitz on a poor unsuspecting Northern Ireland after our books publication could well be the reason that your Library has a copy.
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
There has been a degree of confusion in our workplace recently over the exact nature and meaning of the word ‘tiffin’.
A number of shops, including Tesco, Waitrose and our own local Bon Viveur sell a small, chocolaty biscuit / tray-bake under the name of ‘tiffin’.
This varies in both content and appearance with some varieties containing cherries, some containing nuts and others topped with a layer of chocolate.
They all contain broken-up biscuits of some description along with raisins, all held together by a sort of cocoa based mortar.
The dictionary definition however states simply that ‘tiffin’ is an Indian word for lunch, possibly with a drink involved.
I had always thought that ‘tiffin’ referred to a sort of afternoon or early evening tea with a little something, possibly cake, to go with it.
I was just wondering whether you had a view on the subject and whether the dictionary should be updated to reflect the modern usage of the word (i.e. the chocolaty cake thing).
|Nicey replies: Morning Keith,
Happy New Year to you.
I have seen both usages of the word Tiffin, although neither really fell within my own vocabulary. The first was by friends in my youth who hailed from Lancashire, and was definitely of the Lunch type. I think they used to call their Lunch box Tiffin or maybe they were referring to the contents I was far too young and care free to enquire further.
The second was in Ireland where I feel sure I have seen bars of Cadbury's Chocolate Tiffin, along side their other sorts of Chocolate bars. Again I never investigated further, my head too giddy with thoughts of Kimberlys no doubt.