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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

October 16, 2003

things we don't eat any more

I've got them on my desk, the digestives. We have a rep comes in once a week with biscuits for everyone. Some guys down the end of the room get the custard creams, and there always used to be Rich Tea left over, which nobody wanted. They were great when I was counting points.

But I persuaded the rep to replace the unloved Rich Tea with Digestives. You can forget how good they are if you haven't eaten them in a long time. They don't have to have chocolate on them, they are great on their own, or with cheese.

This started a discussion of odd things people do, like spreading butter on Rich Teas (a bit like putting cheese on chips).

Strange things I used to have when I was growing up, secrets taken by my mum to her grave: Chicken Slick. What was that? It was some kind of chicken broth with slippery stringy dumpling type things in it. Delicious, actually.

Then there was the pudding you had when there was nothing left in the house: stale chocolate cake and custard. Or bananas and custard.

For tea, sometimes, we had banana and raisin sandwiches. And my favourite leftovers meal was fried mashed potato. You add an egg to cold leftover mash and fry little patties in a bit of oil. Fantastic.

You can't believe how much the kitchen fills with smoke and smell and the ringing of smoke alarms when you try to recreate some of your mother's cooking. She used to do Mock Scampi and French Fries. The Mock Scampi was actually Monkfish, which is nicer than scampi, and almost certainly more expensive now. It's also a horrible slimy kind of fish that's difficult to work with because you have to peel off the pink membrane and work around the backbone. French Fries were crinkle cut square-ish bits of potato which had been parboiled before deep frying. Absolutely fantastic.

But more than the smoke and the smell, you're left with an extraordinary mess, which I remember very well. Even a trad roast sunday lunch with home made yorkshire puddings leaves you with every surface of the kitchen covered in dirty pots and pans and food processor bits. Another bad one is sweet and sour pork. My mum used to make a Cantonese-style sweet and sour sauce, with bits of pineapple and cucumber in, and she'd deep fry the pork in batter separately, and cook rice, obviously. Again, the kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it, which is OK if you happen to have 7 kids to do the cleaning up after.

Sardines on toast. I sometimes remember to get sardines, they're full of Omega3, but the kids don't like them. It's like something from the war, isn't it, but it's also really good for you and quick to do.

Chicken slick.... Could this be it?


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