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||Hello again Nicey.|
Kate Strudwick got me thinking about biscuit tin etiquette, by talking about "the rules that require you to finish the first layer before proceeding to the second layer". There are loads of unspoken rules in our house (sort of "The Tin Commandments"):
- You mustn't take a foil wrapped biscuit twice in a row
- You mustn't leave the foil wrappers in the plastic molding, in case you fool someone taking a quick glance into the tin that one of the nicest biscuits is left
- You mustn't leave any of the sellotape around the top when you first open the tin
- You mustn't eat pink wafers by taking the wafer bits off, scraping the cream stuff off with your teeth then putting the reassembled wafer bits back in (ditto bourbons)
- You must not pretend you've eaten the first layer by eating a biscuit out of the second layer then putting the last biscuit from the first layer into the space it leaves (especially if it's a different shape)
... I could go on, but you get the general gist.
I still really enjoy your site, thanks a lot for the fun.
|Nicey replies: Hi Nicky,
Yes I particularly enjoyed that bit too I'm glad you picked up on it. Well done on your other points too. I think we could develop this into the definitive list in time for Christmas, which would be very helpful for all those clueless uncouth people. It would also be a boon for all those sticklers for decorum who could brow beat the biscuit tin abusing louts with it (I was once interviewed in the Daily Mail you know).
Wagon Wheel Review
I was fortunate enough to discover your wonderful book on the back seat of a friends car and I have never enjoyed a 30 minute car journey more. The next day I went out and bought a copy on Amazon (well not so much went out then more diverted 10 minutes when I was at work to go on line, but you get the point)
Anyway I digress from the purpose of this e-mail. When my brother and I were younger and had packed lunches to take to school we would have some kind of sweet biscuit snack, the usual penguins, clubs, wagon wheels etc. well we found that in summer and in an age of no aircon we would open our lunch snacks to discover that the chocolate had melted and therefore spoilt our sweet snacks (please note that we still ate them though). Now my mum is a resourceful woman and came up with the idea of freezing our lunch bars, then in the 3 or so hours between them being added to the morning lunches and us opening them at noon they would have defrosted enough for us to eat them chilled and un-melted.
When my brother and me were on school holiday we discovered that or mum did not revert to keeping the biscuit treats in the cupboard but kept them in the freezer! This meant they were not available to eat off hand but had to be defrosted first, until my brother one hungry day at home discovered something that still baffles me to this day. You can eat frozen Wagon Wheel! Where we were expecting a cold and frozen biscuit and centre, we just had good old Wagon Wheel, granted it was cold but it was not properly frozen! And what’s more it was very nice indeed because the chocolate was flaky, the biscuit slightly more resistant and the marshmallow was perfect. At the end of our holiday we went back to school and mum soon discovered that instead of several multi packs of wagon wheels there were only two loose ones left.
And finally the point of the e-mail, being a man of science I was hoping that maybe you could explain why Wagon wheels do not freeze?
All the best
|Nicey replies: Hoorah! for our book sculling around in the back seat of cars.
Anyhow as you know Wagonwheels of old were quite unlike anything else on the planet before or since. So it comes as little surprise to find out that they had unique physical properties. Perhaps if you had thought of it at the time you could have continued your investigations and seen if they fluoresce under ultra-violet light or if finely divided Wagonwheels (technically crumbs I suppose) could act as the catalyst in something like the Haber-Bosch process.
I doubt if a modern Wagonwheel would be any good as they are made with conventional components like chocolate and so forth.
Rich Tea Review
|Where would those of us who feel slightly nauseous yet in need of a little comfort (childhood illness, pregnancy) etc. be without Rich Tea biscuits.|
They are simple, soothing, plain and comforting. I love the big round ones, even better than the oval thin ones which are a bit too similar to a marie biscuit (best with butter and hundreds and thousands)
I speak up in defense of this noble, sober biscuit!
Cafe Bronte Range Review
|Dear Nicey & Wifey,|
Just recently my sister and I were withdrawing to the withdrawing room after a spot of tea and were discussing the inevitable coronation of Prince Charles. He will of course get his face on the money. But, we asked ourselves, who would inhabit the reverse sides? We've made our own list of favourites including the late great Richard Whitely for the five pound note, still lord of teatime in our hearts. Do you have an opinion already formed on the subject?
Also I'm being asked to bring up the subject of ethical biscuits. Your latest review on the Cafe Bronte Range said their packaging has been increased from a mere cellophane wrapper to a wrapper, cardboard sleeve and sticker which is encouraging wastage. We implore you to consider the ethical content of biscuits in future reviews, not just recycability of packaging
but also fair/free trade, organic, GM, food miles and economic qualities. For example overseas biscuits can just as well be baked locally but how will that support developing world employment if we keep all the jobs for ourselves? A tricky balance I'm sure and there could be no finer forum for it's debate than nicecupofteaandasitdown.com. Perhaps your next survey could include an ethics rating.
Yours morally, Daniel.
|Nicey replies: I would have thought that Spike Milligan would be the obvious choice to go on the back of a Charles bank note.
As for all those ethical things you brought up. I don't think the Cafe Bronte range are too bad at all for a point of sale type product, certainly we put all that cardboard in our recycling. But obviously being something you would consume in a cafe or the like it comes down to that particular establishments recycling facilities. The really right on people will take it home and recycle at home but they shouldn't have to. People who are attuned to such things will make their own decisions based on the facts available, so we simply try and pass on the relevant facts in each case, along with various petty quibbles and random musings.
So perhaps it would be good to hear about sit down places where they responsibly recycle the packing from your cuppa and biccies. Places that simply put bits of cake or biscuits on plates and give you tea in a proper cup or mug as opposed to a paper or worse plastic one, and whose milk is in a jug not a plastic pot go to the top of the class.
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
Although I find myself agreeing absolutely with most of your biscatorial reviews, I do think you are a tad unfair to the Nice biscuit. I find that a simple test of the popularity of a biscuit is to see which ones are left until last in the average "fancy assortment" tin. We all know:
- that the chocolate covered ones are the first to go
- that you might well have to resort to feeding the pinkie wafers to the nearest dog so that you can dispose of them (to avoid breaching the rules that requires you to finish the first layer before proceeding to the second layer)
However....my inclination would be to favour the Nice biscuits over the Bourbons (always a disappointment) or anything with icing on it.
If I find a packet of 3 Nice biscuits on a hotel bedroom's hospitality table, I think it implies that it is a respectable establishment, with no pretentions. It's not the sort of place that would have frilly-knocker blinds instead of proper curtains and there would be a bath as well as a shower.
There is a certain classiness to the pattern, convenient dunking shape, sugar distirbution and general svelteness of the Nice biscuit - not to mention that slight "coconut hit" afterwards. Also, it has stood the test of time, so it must have got something going for it. Unusually, it's one of those biscuits that I prefer without the addition of a layer of chocolate. That implies a pretty sound biscuit to me.
If you are not having a similar experience with this fine piece of confectionery, then perhaps there's some biscuit-related trauma behind your prejudice that we should know about?
PS My mother-in-law has made a pint of custard every day for my father-in-law for the past 56 years. Allowing for holidays and the odd leap year - I reckon that's at least 45 gallons a year - a staggering 2,520+ gallons over the course of their marriage. That must make her a custard expert. Although the usual brand she uses is Bird's - she confesses a partiality to custard powder purchased in Ireland. Whenever I visit Ireland i come back with a huge stash of custard powder for her. Now I know of Wifey's connection to Ireland, would you agree that this is a superior product?
|Nicey replies: Kate,
I'm not sure why I have got it in for the Nice biscuit (apart from the coconut which I don't like and its daft name), but I think its healthy to have a nemesis or two.
As for all that Custard that deserves the erecting of some sort permeant commemorative monument and possibly a small visitor centre with a coach park. We haven't bagged any Irish Custard but I've been told about it. I once did an interview on Irish radio's Ray D'arcy show whilst somebody in the studio made some which was exciting. Apparently Irish Custard Powder is made by the same people who make Birds, so maybe they make it a bit differently for Ireland or it is exactly the same and its wishful thinking. Given your Mum-in-law's experience I wouldn't like to push that last point too far.