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|Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
I was a bit surprised to read that Umami was frightened of the humble fig roll.
Surely there are much scarier biscuits to be afraid of, the happy face for example whose expressions always range from slightly sinister to downright evil.
Still, overcoming the fear must have been something of a personal triumph, so happy endings al round.
|Nicey replies: Well personally as I have mentioned in the past I had issues with Simmers Abernethy biscuits, that prevented me from buying them for years before I finally confronted them. I found their red and yellow packs a bit intimidating, so I have nothing but sympathy. Mind you just the other day in Sainsburys I was filled with the urge to thrust a pack of them in the hands of the mother and daughter who were almost coming to blows over a biscuit that would be both plain yet tasty. I assume as some form of self governing biscuit intake regime.
I toyed breifly with the idea of offering on the spot biscuit consultancy to all who appeared to need it but was distracted by box selection of Sainsbury's own organic biscuits, then the rest of team NCOTAASD turned up and ushered me to tills.
Could you and your team help me with a panic that I am having. I recently visited the biscuit review section and was reminded of the joys of the abernethy biscuit. These were the biscuits of my childhood (along with the Simmers chocolate chip ginger) as at this time the simmers factory was based in Hatton in Aberdeenshire, a mere stone throw from where I grew up and my parents had the worthy idea of supporting local businesses through eating biscuits.
Sadly, even my sisters and my dedicated biscuit eating efforts were not enough and in the early 90s Simmers were bought over by united biscuits and many varieties such as the chocolate ginger and the oatmeal and fruit were to disappear. The only contact that I had with simmers biscuits after this was the occasional packet of Scots Abernethy biscuits, which were always enjoyed - however in my youth I was seduced by more glamarous but less worthy fast and loose chocolate-chunk-extra-nuts-limited-edition-super-duper biscuits. After reading your site I went on a fairly single minded mission to the supermarkets of Aberdeen to try and find a packet of Abernethys and have been unable to find any. Please tell me that they have not joined the ranks of 'late great' biscuits -as I will always feel that it is my own fault for having not been loyal to what I know and love and instead been a bit of a biscuit tart .
Yours with a very guilty conscience,
|Nicey replies: Camilla,
I'm not aware of any problems befalling the Abernethy, Sainsbury's in fact started doing their own label version not so long ago. I think I have seen them recently in Tesco's and Waitrose too.
This is my first visit to your site - it certainly won't be my last!
I was reading the messages about Abernethy biscuits, and recalled an evil practice from my childhood days in the back streets of Glasgow. An innocent victim was chosen and asked to say, with great slowness and deliberation, "ABERNETHY BISCUITS". Now, I don't know why it is, but children don't (or didn't) usually argue about the whys and wherefores of such bizarre requests; they just get on with it. Anyway, when the victim came to a nice, slow 'TH' at the end of Abernethy, with tongue carefully positioned between the teeth, a sharp tap was administered under the chin, bringing the teeth together with unthinkable consequences for the tongue. Weren't we nice?
I don't know why the word 'Abernethy' was chosen; perhaps because it was commonly enough known not to arose suspicion or cause articulatory hesitation.
(I have to say that I always thought of them as terminally boring. I haven't seen them for years and I don't miss them.)
I'll just go now and get the kettle on. I look forward to popping in again.
Keep up the good work.
|Nicey replies: You should just go an get a packet of Abernethy biscuits and make your peace with them over a big mug of tea. Perhaps you could capture the moment on video. If we got enough people reconciling themselves with biscuits that they have fallen out with since their childhood it could make quite powerful TV, at the very least Channel 5 would probably show it.
I have just read your review, and others' comments, on Abernethy biscuits, and I can clarify a few things because not only have I been eating them all my life, but I made some homemade ones last night. (and very nice they were too).
1- the key to Abernethy biscuits is Caraway seeds. Interestingly, these are not listed in the ingredients for the Simmers ones, however they mention 'flavouring' so I assume some caraway seed flavour must be included under this heading.
2- they don't need to be raised by ammonium bicarbonate - this is just an ingredient in some kinds of baking powder and vanishes during the baking process having no impact on taste.
3- when I was little, and went to playgroup at the local church (c 1979,) our favourite biscuits were "Rich Abernethy", and came in a purple packet, or perhaps it was dark blue (I was only four years old). These were not made by Simmers, but I don't know who they were made by. One person comments that they think Abernethys used to be bigger - I think it was this other make that were bigger.
4- Simmers used to make loads of different biscuits, including a lovely dark chocolate chip ginger biscuit. However, their website now only lists Abernethy, the horrible butter biscuits and equally horrible MacVita (a Ryvita type of thing). There must be a thing about dark chocolate ginger biscuits - Gray Dunns and their delicious dark choc gingers have gone, and so have the Simmers choc chip gingers.
I'll away now,
|Nicey replies: Well I'm no expert on them, but I had never heard the Caraway seeds mentioned before. I think I would have to be hallucinating wildly to detect in a Simmers one. Still its a nice idea. My Nan used to get a caraway seed cake quite often when we used to visit, and I haven't seen one in years. As to the raising,. well yes it wouldn't matter what was used, its just a comment on the smell of the commercial biscuit dough really.|
I've just discovered your website, which is great. I was particularly pleased to see the Abernethy reviews and discussion.
Does anyone remember Abernethys being larger than they are now? Although I was born and brought up in London, my parents were from Glasgow and I remember that one of the treats of my youth was the packet of Abernethys brought by visiting relatives, or even better the packets we could eat when we visited Glasgow.
I discovered Simmers Abernethys in Waitrose a couple of years ago, but my mum and I agreed that they weren't quite like the Abernethys we remembered from years back.
Can any Scottish correspondents throw any light on this?
|Nicey replies: Perhaps it could simply be the WagonWheel effect at work.