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In reply to Angela Stark's e-mail on the subject of gipsy creams, I can say that the McVitie's Gipsy Cream has emerged from the realm of myth and legend. It is alive and well and living on a small market stall in central London, though it is clearly an endangered species, to judge from its numbers. It appears to have been introduced from its native Scotland. A conservation programme needs to be set up if a thriving colony is to be established. My good lady and I are currently in possession of three packets, but sadly the numbers are dwindling fast. If you have a land mail address, I'd be happy to send you an empty wrapper as evidence that the legendary Gipsy Cream does indeed exist.
|Nicey replies: Jez,
This is the biscuit equivalent of catching a Ceolacanth, you must be very pleased. Of course we would like to publish photographic evidence of the existence of these biscuits, and to check their best before date. Better still would be the location of the market stall so we send one of our biscuit agents to investigate.
When we were kids, we spent every Sunday in the summertime at Llangennith beach on the Gower (South Wales). My mothers idea of a picnic was a whole roast chicken, a pressure cooker of potatoes and veg taken straight off the top of the cooker and put into the boot of the car not to be opened until we were ready to eat and an enormous red thermos full of gravy. This would be eaten in the field above the beach obviously for fear of sand. The adults wouldn't actually venture onto the beach at all in fact. There were always warm hard boiled eggs too and angel cake and pink wafers. We had a little camping gaz stove and a kettle for tea. It would take all afternoon to boil. My Gran (bless her) would sit there on her deck chair all day in her Sunday Best Coat and Chapel hat despite the blistering heat (1976 if you're wondering - we might be the wettest place in Britain now but we did have sun once I'm certain).
Ps just eaten a custard (or iced) slice. Is that soggy cream cracker on the bottom? Could they go in the venn diagram between crackers and cakes? Loved the book.
|Nicey replies: Splendid we now have beans, soup and gravy as Thermos contents, but I'm willing to accept weirder ones, porridge perhaps?
As for the bases of Custard slices I had always assumed that this was puff pastry that had been transformed by the immense humidity and pressure exerted by an inch and a quarter of custard, into a strange slighty glassy substance. Perhaps custard slices are a model of some geological processes such as the laying down of sedimentary rocks, or the earth's lithosphere.
Jacob's Orange Club Review
|Dear Nicey and crew|
Talking of family holidays and what might accompany you in your thermos flasks. My lasting memories of travelling to South Wales in the summertime in the 1960s always conjures up the road side stops, when you pulled into the lay-by (alongside a few other folk travelling to the seaside), opened up the boot, and Mum would produce loads of Tupperware boxes, filled with sandwiches, tomatoes, apples, Club biscuits (generally a bit sticky cos they'd melted), etc. We generally had a nice bit of Madeira cake too. It might have been the height of summer, but there was also a thermos or two of soup (one filled with cream of tomato and the other vegetable or minestrone (quite continental for us at the time!)). Grown ups of course had their thermos of tea - we youngsters had blackcurrant cordial. Fantastic!
PS: As I recall, our thermos flasks tended to have some kind of tartan pattern on the outside.
|Nicey replies: Yes our flask icon is intended to show some tartan action. Our new flask as seen in the last newsletter is one of those new fangled brushed metal ones but we do like it none the less. Which reminds me we really should write another newsletter.|
Weston's Wagon Wheels Review
|Hello again nicey and family,|
Just perused an email on your site about WWs and realised that here in the Great Southern Land you can buy lots of different types of wagon wheels viz standard WWs - one to a packet in regulation size (largest in the world now? - gotta love it) biscuit sized in packs of 12 in standard WW flavour, strawberry choc (ie they are pink on the outside and taste like it) and vanilla choc (they are white - what IS the purpose of white chocolate?) mini sized in double choc and jaffa
You can also buy Korean 'moon pies" by Lotte - they look like pregnant WWs and taste stange - no jam, funny oriental marsh mallow and a VW bug kind of profile.
Choc bikkies are out of control in this country - saw some Kahlua flavoured slices (a mint slice with Kahlua cream) and a Black Forest gateau flavoured slice as well. Too much
Wish I could get eccles cakes out here....sigh
|Nicey replies: Hi Monika,
Wow sounds like the WagonWheel has really wigged out since joining Arnotts.
||Dear Nicey, Wifey and younger member of staff,|
Loving the toast rack icon - bordering on the inspired! The Thermos flask is also a small triumph, but my strongest memories of flask based activities as a child do not include tea. The beaches here in Wales are indeed fantastic, but can be a little nippy even during the summer months. So Mam would often pack a thermos full of hot baked beans along with the sandwiches and whatnots when an outing to the seaside was in the offing - does this go against the Thermos ethos? Also, to return to the toast rack, will this be utilised for other toasted baked goods? I am thinking crumpets, tea cakes and slightly out of season Hot Cross Buns?
Sterling work as ever,
|Nicey replies: Firstly, yes I fully expect the new Toast icon to crop up whenever the broader issue of toasting raises its head. This is certainly in keeping with the general bandying around of icons such as the butter icon.
Secondly flasks of hot baked beans sounds utterly fantastic, I would be thinking of having a tee-shirt made that proclaims that you were raised in this way. Hoorah for your Mum and her bean flasks. I would of course still require a flask of tea to wash them down with.
Thirdly at Easter we were sat on a couple of Welsh beaches with our flask. The first attempt was a major disaster, having set out with the younger members of staff to dam up the stream that runs through Merthyr Mawr sand dunes. The stream had dried up, so we struck out for the coast, and anybody who knows the locale will know that this is quite a hike. No matter for I had provisions, or so I thought. On reaching the beach, we had forgotten the Fig Rolls, the Jaffa Cakes and the milk. I tried to console myself with a cup of black tea, which Wifey and Nanny Nicey declined. No, despite the claims of those who like it, black tea is fairly foul (they actually know this but insist that we should all drink it), especially when you really want a proper cup. I tried to amuse myself by attempting to construct a working cigarette lighter from the dozen or so I collected from the shore line, not that I smoke, I just thought it would be a useful survival trick in a sort of useless alternate Ray Mears way.