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Real custard is brilliant and much better than the ready made rubbish. In fact, Nigella's new book contains several recipes featuring custard powder.
We've just returned from holiday in Norway where custard seems to play a huge part in daily life, most notably in the Norwegian School Bun - a bun with custard in a sort of well in the middle, with icing and dessicated coconut on the top. A Norwegian friend tells me that this is the only cake/bun children are allowed to take to school, to make sure no one feels better or worse than anyone else due to bun inequalities. Typical Scandinavians.
Regards as always
|Nicey replies: You see I was interviewed once by a lady from Norway and she didn't mention this at all. It's funny how people take such things for granted such as standardised educational custard buns, where as clearly they are a thing of wonder. Also it does beg the question as to what would happen to those non conformists who maybe fancied a squirt of jam in their bun or maybe something with a few currants in too.|
I am a German biscuit fan and have spent many enjoyable lunch breaks reading your site - thank you for a glimpse of many strange and fascinating biscuits! There are several I will definitely watch out for. My personal favorite at the moment is more a cake than a biscuit, however, in spite of it's biscuit-like size and packaging, so I will not take up your time with the manifold delights of the Mauritius chocolate-covered Baumkuchen-tips with Jamaica Rum.
Instead, allow me to review one of the best-sold biscuits of the world: The Oreo by Nabisco. I know you have reviewed it already, but I feel the need to add my own two cents to the dicsussion.
The Oreo craze in the US has always mystified me - perhaps I am merely spoiled or unreasonably demanding, but I am rather partial to biscuits that taste of something other than sugar and crisco.
The filling... oh, the filling. It is grease and sugar, mixed up in the least appealing mass imaginable. The taste is offensively sweet and offers nothing at all to recommend it. It leaves a thin film of greasy residue with a chemical tang on the tongue. The memory alone causes me to shudder - and not in delight.
As for the biscuit part of the Oreo, it is less sweet and less horrible than the filling, and that is its only good point. It's always fascinated me that Nabisco succeeds in coloring the biscuit parts of the Oreo so that they *look* as though they contain large amounts of cocoa, but fails dismally when it comes to lending them a chocolaty taste. Taste does not offer up any evidence to support the hypothesis that these biscuits have so much as seen chocolate pass in the distance. In fact, all the biscuit part of an Oreo tastes of is flour and sugar, with a hint of artificial additives in the aftertaste. Yum.
The phenomenon of the Oreo's popularity is possibly related to the fact that in the US, real chocolate is unknown. Have you ever tried to consume a Hershey's product? I wouldn't recommend it to the faint-hearted, I can assure you. It's enough to bring tears to your eyes as you burble "why? and how? there must be cocoa in this thing - why can I not TASTE it?" So, unless the poor deprived citizens of this country have had the great good fortune to encounter actual, imported chocolate, these people have no way of knowing what cocoa actually tastes like. This means that Nabisco can get away with the Oreo. It looks like there is a lot of cocoa in it, it tastes every bit as sickly-sweet and non-chocolaty as other US products supposedly involving chocolate... why, it must be extremely chocolaty indeed!
The ritual twisting apart and dunking in ice-cold milk is an additional strangeness, but I can certainly understand the need to wash down these nasty biscuits quickly and with something that numbs the tongue. They don't taste of much, except cloying sweetness, but they do have a subtly offensive chemicality and greasiness.
Thanks for listening - I feel much better for getting that off my chest!
|Nicey replies: I think your mail balances out the one from the lady who said they bring back happy childhood memories of sitting in mountain meadows munching on Oreos whilst watching the clouds go by and generally communing with nature.|
||With the current custard craze happening in the NCOTAASD community, I'm going to have to zip home now for a nice cup of tea, and the classic Sunday tea-time pudding from my childhood - a tinned 'Jam Sponge Pudding' by Heinz (other tinned puddings are also available) with lashings of Birds Custard (other custards are probably available). Bliss.|
Anyway. This started me thinking about 'lashings'. Is a lashing some kind of scientific measurement for those custard-like substances which bridge the gap between solid and liquid? I like to think so. I like to imagine trifle factories ordering 1,200 lashings of Custard every week. I imagine the next unit down from a lashing would probably be a 'dollop', which is commonly used to measure whipped cream.
|Nicey replies: Good applied reasoning there Greg.|
||Don't know if anybody you know might be interested but it seems we found a grave for the founders of Meredith & Drew (founded 1835 & apparently joined with United Biscuits in 1967)…|
Xa Naylor (Mrs)
Service Development Officer
City of London Cemetery & Crematorium
|Nicey replies: That is quite interesting, we know very little about Meredith & Drew apart from what you mention and that they had several Royal Appointments including Queen Victoria. Other companies that merged with or formed UB all brought ready established brands to the portfolio where as Meredith and Drew don't seem to be remembered in this way.|
Vic Ockmore is spot-on when he identifies the (fairly) recent phenomenon of Coconut taste being found in the mighty Breakaway biscuit, though I have no idea when or why this came about. As your review states the Breakaway used to have an oaty Digestive at it's heart and it was this, combined with an enrobement of real chocolate (yes - real, not that pretend gunk like you get on Waggonwheels and Clubs!) that made this superb biscuit a firm favourite with me. I (unlike yourself-it would seem) have no problem with Coconut and it's use in biscuit manufacture, but in this case I strongly believe they have got it wrong. There was nowt wrong with the original so why mess with it?
Though not as good as it once was, it's still a decent biccy and yes I too mourn the passing of the foil wrap - lets face it the good old Kit-Kat hasn't been the same since it received the same treatment, has it?
Coincidentally, in the early Eighties both the Breakaway and Kit-Kat had the same 'hidden chocolate bonus potential' that so many of us enjoyed, and it was this reason - as much as any other that caused me to eat so many of the things.
The trick in those days, was to do a bit of light 'brass-rubbing' of the foil on the underside of said item, to try and determine if it was solid chocolate or not - (both biscuits had only a thin layer of chocolate at their base so any biscuit or wafer enclosed was easily identifiable). Now I know what you are thinking and the answer is No - I didn't spend my formative years fondling confectionary in the local shops ! (well - no more than your average snotty-nosed kid with a few pennies burning a hole in his pocket) - I was lucky. After leaving school I worked for a few years in the catering industry and therefore had unlimited access to the things before they were put out on display for sale or in vending machines. So I would like to take this opportunity to formally apologise to all those people who's only hope of brightening their day lay in the chance discovery of the odd 'rogue' Kit-Kat - folks you didn't stand a chance - I got in there first !...Sorry...
Anyway Nicey, great web site - great subject - can't believe I've only just found it (many thanks to MSN). I spent hours yesterday reading all the reviews etc.. trouble is - what on earth do you tell the missus you've been doing till 2 in the morning when you crawl into bed ? - reading about tea and biscuits on the internet ? . . . no - I don't think she believed me either !!
Fraser (jollygoodfellow) Driver
|Nicey replies: Fortunately my Wife is very understanding and broadminded about the whole tea biscuits and the internet thing.