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Apparently classically trained French chefs refuse to acknowledge the existence of custard, and when pressed, tend to fall back on using the euphemism “crème anglais”. Maybe this is what Queenie calls it.
I once saw custard defined in a gastronomical dictionary as “a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow and the cook”.
Off to Romania next week to check out the tea and biscuits topology – do you have any recommendations for that part of the world?
Keep up the good work!
|Nicey replies: Nick,
We are largely clueless about Romania, so consider yourself on a bold journey of discovery. We had some Russian biscuits last year which were not ever so massed produced and sold loose in little plastic trays. They were the sort of thing that needed to eaten very fresh sort of like a semi sweet Viennese finger. Perhaps you'll find something like that?
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
Allow me first to congratulate you on your excellent book and indeed this entertaining and informative website. The subject of a nice cup of tea and the associated matter of a sit down have been long overdue for such careful consideration. However, such a national icon as tea drinking can hardly be mentioned without courting controversy, and it is with regard to the matter of tea-making that I right. Don't worry though - I am writing not in seethign indignation, but rather my e-mail is intended to promote scientific debate.
You mention in your splendid tome that it is is better to use pre-boiled water to make tea, rather than re-boiling already boiled water (a process which drives out dissolved oxygen). Now I had always understood that it was essential for the water to be at boiling point in order to activate the flaveroids, or whatever they are called, in the tea, thus ensuring a good tastey cuppa. My question to Nicey therefore (knowing you to be of a scientific bent) is which of these factors (boiling vs. dissolved oxygen) ahs the greater influence on the tastiness of the brew? I must confess that I tend towards the boiling water persuasion - after all, oxygen dissolves in water only with some difficulty, and how much will be present in the water after the first boil?
By the way, I never succeeded in making a good brew when I lived in Cumbria - the water was all wrong.
Keep up the good work!
C. Whiteley, E. Yorks.
|Nicey replies: Well I would switch quickly from a footing of raked together semi-scientific gossip to pure speculation, and say that the state of the water being boiled and re-boiled affects its taste, and therefore that of the tea.
I just checked with the tea council's website (which seems to have had a recent facelift) and they too go on about the oxygen being important, but don't say how it works.
||The Queen has never had Custard...|
My Dad (sadly, departed and much missed) was a master chef and cooked for the Queen (gawd bless 'er), Heads of State and the odd American President... His cookery books which are THE final word on cuisine have come into my hands. I've just checked - no custard. Well, except Baked Custard which is just the same as the classic baked custard tart but without the pastry case. There are variations on Creme and Creams which have the basis of classical custard (such as milk, eggs, sugar) but not one recipe for custard as we know it (a la mode de Messr. Bird, which is to say side dish to a pie, tart or some such).
All of which leads me to suggest, that the Queen (gawd bless 'er) has probably never known the gastronomic delights of Swiss roll and custard, Arctic Roll and Custard (a 70s thing I admit) and my favourite, ice cream and custard. I really think after a hard day's reigning her Majesty should have the culinary delights my Dad bestowed on his kids!!! Actually most of Queenie's pudding recipes are milky, eggy and cholesterol enhancing... In case you were wondering - one recognizable recipe for biscuits - the good old ginger nut (its an ethnic English food apparently, the next entry along is aniseed cake which is an ethnic Israeli biscuit by all accounts). All other biscuity recipes are petit fours and more like baked edible trays to carry buttercream and fruit/nut combos into the Royal gob.
|Nicey replies: Of course there is the possibility that the Queen demands lashings of proper Custard over all her puddings as a matter of course, and given that the instructions are on the side of the tin your Dad never felt the need to write them down.|
How about a poll on the best use of custard? I rather like in it those little fruit flans. In fact I don’t think the flans work without it, so it’s a top usage in my eyes.
Also, custard when frozen is icecream – now there’s a top use. Although that does work better with the old-fashioned type made from eggs and cream than the powdered type!
|Nicey replies: Indeed. Though perhaps a quick straw poll on our newly deployed Custard icon would be pertinent. I tried to think of something clever and in the end settled for a small lump of it.|
I am a devoted fan of your delightful and informative web-site.
Imagine my horror upon landing on your home page to find a globulous and vomit-inducing photograph of custard.
I nearly choked on the M&S Viennese Finger I happened to be enjoying.
Custard is the Devil's own sweet sauce sir, and should not grace the same site as biscuits.
Disappointed from Sheffield