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I think that your interest in custard is well timed. On a recent circuit of my local Tesco store, I found many new ready-made custards which I had not noticed before. These were positioned near stocks of desert which might benifit from a custard accompanyment. It seems someone has decided that custard is "in".
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the yellow stuff. Harrowing experiences at school, involving yucky grey tasteless gloop with a skin like old roofing felt left me deeply suspicious of anything I was offered to pour over a desert when eating out. To this day I cannot stand the thought of cold custard.
For me, my mums custard (made with Birds powder) is the standard by which all others are judged.
There are certain deserts which seem to demand custard; the most obvious being rhubarb crumble.
In recent years squirty cream has largely replaced custard in our household as it is more popular with the kids.
Zoe Healys email reminded me of a story my mum told about her childhood in Edinburgh. The strong Calvinist ethos in one area of the city had lead to a local council ban on the sale of ice cream on Sundays.
However, trade continued as normal except on Sunday you had to buy "frozen custard"!
||Really pleased to see you giving time to the Great British institution that is custard. Where would we be if there was no custard to top of our crumble - choking on a bit of wheatgerm probably. I can't imagine an apple pie (with or without the little pastry leaves) without it, and as for a good steamed pudding with Golden Syrup, Pah! Without custard we Brits would be nothing more than savages.|
And how to make it? Well I'm not a great chef, but I prefer the traditional method of using Birds custard in the cardboard tin thing - I don't hold with this modern paper sachet stuff or, worse still, the pre-made variety. I cook it carefully on the stove, stirring at all times, often listening to Nimrod by Elgar. (Important not to try using the wooden spoon as a baton at the more uplifting moments.) My fiancee prefers using the Microwave, and this is the only cause of strife between us, however, it does mean that you can locate the glowing irradiated abomination easily during candlelit suppers...
My everlasting memory from school however was that as the week progressed, custard got thinner. On Monday, it was almost cut from a slab and placed, slice by slice onto something substantial enough to support its weight, such as a good solid apple and rhubarb pie. By Friday, it was thin and watery; more suitable for mixing with the glucous mass that was school stewed fruit. My personal favourite was Wednesday custard, thick enough to cover a sponge pudding with pride, and fluid enough to flow all the way around the edges. Monday custard is prety good in a trifle though.
I'd be interested to know what other custard lovers prefer, the Monday, Wednesday, or Friday variety. Perhaps the more cosmopolitan readers might even like the Tuesday or Thursday types.
P.S. I've just come back from Greece. No custard there, so hardly worth bothering with puddings!
Biscuit memorabilia? This poses many questions, indeed the mind boggles as to what Alison Russell might have in her collection. Apart from some very nice tins and packaging, what could there be apart from the product itself?
Unless "memorabilia" is a euphamism for biscuit related memories, fondly stored in the deeper recesses of one's mind. As I'm sure I've told you, having worked as a sales rep for McVities in the late sixties (my first job, I'm not that ancient) I do have one or two. And had I had the foresight to realise that one day, physical items would become de rigeur to collect, I could have harboured quite a collection of artefacts, which no doubt would now fetch a fortune on E-bay.
The first item that comes to mind is the bowler hat I was supposed to wear. "Sets a McVities man apart from the rest" I was told (yeah, I know what you're thinking). Then the numerous product promotional offer gifts, where biscuit munchers were invited to enclose tokens from the packets and get a cheap bone china tea service, coffee pot, instamatic camera, etc. I also had a nice Digestive tea caddy once, with oriental decoration - I wonder what happened to it. Plus some interesting display material, enough to account for a large chunk of rain forest. Add to that a Mk 1 Ford Escort with 33,000 miles on the clock after nine months (apparently this was my fault, although I was relief salesman on an area stretching from Luton to the Humber) and you have the makings of a small museum.
I could have used my instamatic to take photos of all the village shops I visited which are no longer there, together with multiples with long forgotten names - International Stores, Liptons, Home and Colonial, Maypole, Key Markets, Cunsumers Tea Co - not to mention the Co-op, which was king. These of course, were gentler days, when you could take your girlfriend to the pictures, have a couple of pints afterwards and fish and chips, and still have change from a shilling (well, a pound note.)
I was sent up to Lincoln a few times, but I don't remember Lincolns selling any better there than anywhere else. There were some local preferences though. Rich Marie sold very well in Bedford because of the Italian community, and Digestives and Chocolate Homewheat in Cambridge because of the undergraduates. Thin Arrowroots sold well in Grimsby, but I never found out why. Perhaps it had something to do with fish.
Does anyone else have memories like mine? Or should I send for the men in white coats?
|Nicey replies: I too had slight boggling, which was a cunning sub-text to my suggestion that she sent a picture of her collection to us.
My Dad always maintained that he could go for a good Friday night out on 50p circa 1970.
Wonder whether you spotted the following report
Keep up the great work!
|Nicey replies: Oh yes that was all duly noted. We often drive past and take the train through Bishops Stortford so obviously it comes as a great relief to us to know that council staff have been trained up in tea making safety. The foreboding that a scalding hot cup of tea might come sailing out of an open council office window has now significantly reduced.|
||Dear Nicey and Wifey|
I just wanted to add my small voice to the pouring out of praise for that wonderful substance, custard. Indeed, there are few puddings better, quicker or more convenient than a sliced banana and plenty of custard made fresh from the tin - Birds of course. And, when it comes to Christmas pudding, why mess around with brandy butter or sweet white sauce? Custard is best, every time.
My husband disagrees. He thinks that cream is the better desert lubricant and even eats bananas and cream! Ugh! He also prefers the kind of custard that is already made up in cartons or yoghurt pot type thingies. This to my view is far too sweet and usually too thick.
I'd also like to add our family ritual for trifle creation. Slices of raspberry jam swiss roll soused in sherry of your choice or sweet wine, fresh or previously frozen raspberries, generous layer of BIrds best, whipped cream and flaked almonds. Heaven in a bowl.
|Nicey replies: Bananas and Custard are a brilliant pudding, frequently deployed here at NCOTAASD HQ when the younger members of staff have polished off all their main course. I have to admit to liking Christmas pudding with mostly custard and a dash of cream.
As for trifle, there simply isn't enough of it around.