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Have you ever come accross the minature immersion kettle before? A friend of mine at school had one. It was a little like the element from a kettle, coated in material that was electrically insulated, but not heat insulated and on the end of a wire plugged into the mains. You took a cup, filled it with water, dunked in the immersion heater and boil away. When the water is boiled, simply turn off the heater, remove from the cup and make your cup of tea. If you are fussy about the way you make your tea simply use two mugs, boil in one, make tea in the other. It made a pretty decent cup of tea as far as I remember. At least it did until he blew the fuses in the boarding house by forgetting to turn it off. With the addition of some kind of safety switch this would make a very handy addition to your suitcase when going to America or other kettle sceptic countries.
|Nicey replies: Indeed a friend at University had one. He would often leave it to heat up cups of coffee he had let go cold, whilst we dragged him off to the pub. Returning to it 3 hours later to find it had enameled the inside of his cup with the very nasty but worthy Oxfam coffee he drank. I noted its existence but gave it a wide birth.|
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
What a lovely web site you have! Much more fun than working!
Anyway, to business. I read with interest your Tim Tam vs Penguin review - I must say that even as an ex-Brit, I lean towards the Tim Tam myself. And I have tried Penguins recently, and they are not what they used to be.
But seeing the special "Black Forest Fantasy" packet featured in the responses brought back into my mind the torrid controversy which occupied the staff tea room for a good fortnight a while back. "Black Forest" refers to the Black Forest cake, a cake with a strong theme of cherries (which feature prominently on the biscuit packet) as well as the inevitable chocolate. If we turn over the packet and read the ingredients, we find that these biscuits do indeed contain real cherries.
0.01% of them.
That's about 2 milligrams per biscuit!
I have seen the accusations of a reduction in chocolate content in order to create a market for "double coated" variety, and maybe this has caused some sensitivity about other ingredients diluting the dominance of chocolate, but surely it is taking it too far to reduce the cherry content to below the levels approved for many food additives!
What can be done? Well, perhaps you can help me raise public awareness of this shabby behaviour...
(Incidentally, have you tried the Chili flavoured Tim Tams? Quite nice, but not really enough chili, in my humble opinion. Probably about 0.01% I suspect...)
All the best,
|Nicey replies: I think I'm more concerned about the Chilli flavour Tim Tams than the levels of Cherry in the Black Forest ones.|
I have just returned from a trip to the United States which I survived quite well by referring my hosts in advance to your website, and explaining (in a loud voice, I am sorry to say) how essential it is to avoid any form of embarrassment. However, there were one or two disturbing traits which I should bring to your attention. First, the demise of kettles: they seem to have been replaced by microwave ovens. Any form of tea-making involves pre-heating the water in a cup, then applying a stringed tea bag. Secondly, the resultant beverage is then put in an insulated cup, so that it may then be consumed while in an automobile. I need hardly add how shocked I was. On an upbeat note, I am pleased to say how plentiful the supply of Nairn's wheat-free mixed berry were in Boston, although the sting in the tail was the rather steep price, which some might have thought extortionate, but I kept quiet on that one.
|Nicey replies: I blame popular science fiction (you know the one) for making people comfortable with the idea of getting their drink out of a small glass fronted hi-tech cupboard. We have tried to do our bit to redress the balance by bunging Patrick Stewart a copy of our book when we ran into him last autumn.|
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
I was a bit dismayed to read that there has been a slump in tea sales in recent years and am sure that is in some way linked to the apparent rise in anti-social behaviour. I am not convinced however that this is due to people drinking fruit-flavoured infusions as an alternative.
I heard on the radio this morning that there has been an increase in milk sales recently which has been attributed to the rise in the “cappuccino culture”. This seems also to be a more likely explanation for the fall in tea sales.
Be warned, the Americans went down this very same path many years ago and look how that ended up!
|Nicey replies: When I was chatting on the radio about it the chairman of the Tea Council flatly refuted any claims that coffee was involved. He also thought the figures were a bit misleading, and not as much as painted by Mintel. He put the blame on fizzy drinks and herbal teas, but made the point that their findings are that people switch to tea as soon as they go to collage or get a job.
Good point about the Americans, we don't want to end up with the sort of society that gives rise to Barney rather than Balamory.
A colleague of mine has just commented on the sludge in the bottom of my mug."What's that!?" she exclaimed, with that facial expression which one usually wears when removing something unpleasant from the bottom of one's shoe.
"That's where I've been dunking digestives", I proudly proclaimed. (I'm an out-of-the-closet dunker.)
"Aaah," said she, obviously not impressed. "That's 'glopping', that is".
Well I've not heard of 'glopping' before, and so I began to wonder. What other names does the wonderful hobby of dunking have? Do you or any of your esteemed staff or readers know of any alternatives?
Best wishes to Wifey and the YMoS.
|Nicey replies: Sounds like she was calling the bottom sludge 'glopping'. Any how to be fair it's not a pleasant business dealing with other peoples bottom sludge, I would consider it good etiquette for dunkers to clean out their own mugs. I suppose in the movies when they want to artificially simulate lots of 'glopping' for an epic tea and biscuit dunking scene they let a couple of Weetabix go soggy in milk and use that. I bet that will turn up in one of those bonus 'The making of' special edition DVDs at some point.|