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Iced Gems Review
|Hi nicey & wifey|
We been greatly interested in the "die hard with a biscuit" scenario, and it has been much discussed. We suspect that whilst being useless as a weapon, garibaldi slabs would make good substitutes for Kevlar, when used in body armour vests... However, on the offensive, we favour firstly scattering a few packs of iced gems on the floor... Mr Willis invariably fights barefooted, we believe, and the tiny spikes pressing into his feet would undoubtably slow him up. We favour the McVities ginger nut for the coup de
gras as it is just the hardest on the block.
Meanwhile my colleague is just about to bring down a nice cuppa, and I am hoping that I don't get the black mug. (Stay away from the dark side, my son)
Keep up the good work
|Dr Greg James
I note that you have included an interesting diagram on your website which shows a simplistic taxonomy of biscuits. I have been interested in the classification of biscuits ever since a throwaway (in her eyes) comment by the wife that a bourbon "is basically just a chocolate custard cream". Obviously this madness made me splutter out my tea. However I had no scientific proof to argue my case. My wife had clearly thought "same sandwich morphology ergo same essential biscuit". Since this horrendous episode I have been labouring to produce a rigorous and logical biscuit taxonomy. I have based my classification on three variables (or dimensions): 1. substance, including flavour if it is an essential component of the substance (i.e. a bourbon is made of "chocolate biscuit", whereas a chocolate digestive is "plain digestive" with the chocolate coating classified as an extra [see 3]); 2. morphology (e.g. disc, rectangular, sandwich); 3. extras (e.g. raisins, chocolate coating, jam filling). However this "3-dimension" approach, whilst giving a framework for the accurate description of most biscuits, is slightly long winded and lacks a natural "feel" for the inherent differences between, say, the aforementioned bourbon and custard cream. Does anyone else have a decent and reliable classification for biscuits? How does this fare when differentiating biscuits from cakes and chocolate bars? I tend to use the simple "if packed and/or purchasable as individual items it is unlikely to be a true biscuit" rule of thumb. Any comments?
Dr Greg James
|Nicey replies: Dr Greg,
There is of course a much bigger Venn diagram in our book. However, the custard cream and bourbon both find themselves in the sandwich biscuit section. The answer to your particular issue is that of course a bourbon isn't a chocolate custard cream or else it would look like one which it doesn't (your second morphology point), also Bourbons should have some little sugar crystals in the upper surface which counts as extras.
A much more compelling argument can be made for the Penguin being a chocolate covered bourbon, although it isn't.
The fact that recently in the last two weeks we've seen biscuit classification taught as an exercise to undergraduates at Bristol University shows that this isn't a trivial matter.
As a Dr you should also know that this is the kind of comment made by wives to husbands designed to elicit a response. Wifey will frequently taunt me with her views on Jaffa Cakes, such as the time we were This Morning with Fern and Philip.
After approximately 15 years of PG Tips drinking, last week my preferred choice of brew changed. I am now on Twinings Everyday Tea and can heartily recommend it. It's weird, I know it's only tea but it feels the same as dumping a girlfriend. Sorry PG Tips, it's not you, it's me........
|Nicey replies: It's strange for us too because we know you both so well. Hopefully there won't be any awkward scenes when you are both invited to the same parties. I think Wifey will probably take your ex-tea out on the lash and may not speak to your new tea for at least six months.
Perhaps you should consider making a clean break of it and getting a new mug, after all how will your new tea feel being in the same mug that you had all those lovely cups of PG Tips in?
Kimberley and Chocolate Kimberley Review
|Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
Two things. Well, three actually.
1. The book is amazing.
2. I am using it for genuine educational purposes in a University setting. Is this a first? I teach Introduction to Archaeology to 83 first year undergraduate students and in Monday's lecture we will be exploring typology and taxonomies, seriation and the suchlike, and I have decided to make this a hands-on practical involving biscuit sorting. The whole point is to beautifully illustrate the subjectivity of classification, with the added bonus of eating the demonstration materials. Anyway, your book has been properly cited and I'll try and sneak it onto the reading list.
3. As a child of Norn Iron (indeed, of Portaferry, where I read you had visited during the summer) I was unaware that kimberley-mikados-and-coconut-creams were a) separate biscuits and b) unavailable in the rest of the UK, so your book has educated me hugely, and now I've got that annoying jingle stuck in my head on a permanent basis. Thanks for that. Oh, and I tried buying them in Tesco's in Ards shopping centre when I was last home, but their biscuit selection was crap and they had none.
Keep up the good work,
All the best,
|Nicey replies: Well it's probably a first in that sense. A chap at Bath University is translating it into Chinese for his MA, I asked if they could get somebody to translate it back when he was done as I'd like to see how it turned out.|
Further to recent correspondence regarding the whole "biscuits as weapons" thing I would like to introduce the idea of "biscuits as eductional tools". As part of our training we are required to have a basic understanding of materials and mechanics. For the most part it is very basic ( i.e non-existant ) so we have regular teaching sesions which attempt to address this. A few years ago a nice lady who is a world reknowned expert in material science came to teach us for an afternoon. She clearly realised that she was trying to educate morons and had tailored her talk accordingly. She was using examples of everyday items to illustrate various points and it seemed quite easy when she explained it. Well, we all seemed to be grasping it so she moved on to the concepts of brittleness and surface hardness. She demonstrated ductility by bending a plastic ruler which we could all understand and then she passed round a packet of McVities digestive biscuits (which instantly increased her popularity) and invited us to break them in half thereby demonstrating that they do not bend much before breaking because they are brittle. Then she asked us to run our fingernail down the surface and observe the resulting scratch. Thus the concept of surface hardness and the production of asperities by 3rd body wear was easily explained to 20 or so trainee orthopaedic surgeons who are well known for being thick.
Naturally I felt you would wish to know of this example of biscuits contributing to the greater good of man and increasing the sum of human knowledge. It occurs to me now that it would be useful to conduct a trial of various biscuits to compare surface properties starting with the addition of chocolate to the digestive........ And if you are going to have an icon for "biscuits as weapons" do you think we could have one for "biscuits as educational tools"?
I am deeply grateful for the top tip on the mint chocolate digestives, by the way. I think they would be the starting point for any educational research I would try.