Sunday, 30 September 2007

Food Rituals

Nigel Slater has a new book about called Eating for England. Extracts in the Observer the last two weeks. While I'm not sure it does anything to alter our image of bland and inelegent palates it does remind me of the joy of certain childhood pleasures. Particularly those things that come with ritualistic eating patterns.
  1. Egg Custard Tart - Nigel Slater's own methodology is distinctly different from my own - he takes the tart out of the metal casing and cuts it into neat quarters. Personally I would never first take the tart out of its tinfoil - instead nibble the edges off the pastry that hangs over the edge, lick the nutmeggy top off the custardy bit and only then take the tart out of its container and eat it, particuarly savouring the particular thick powdery sort of damp pastry.
  2. Jaffas cakes have to be mentioned when discussing ritualistic eating - the main aim is to get the sponge bit off first, and to suck the remaining orangy bit covered in chocolate - melts in the mouth. Someone should invent a jaffa cake without the cake bit!
  3. Linking in with a biscuit theme - bourbons - a chocolatey joy in a boring biscuit tin, these have to be split and the inner cream licked off first - the remaining biscuit dunked.
  4. Dairylea triangles - total blast from the past (you wouldn't catch me eating them these days). As a kid the only way to eat it was to open the top point of the triangle and suck the 'cheese' out. My favourite dairylea story is of an old colleague and her chums sneaking a round of dairylea triangles into the window display of the snooty framagerie in Highbury Barn over the christmas period.
I hasten to add that none of these techniques should be tackled except in the pricacy of one's own home. They were invented by a kid of five and go with licking the plate after eating pancakes (either that sugared lemony juice on Pancake day or to get up the remains of maple syrup from breakfast pancakes) - things that nobody should know you still enjoy as an adult.

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