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Showing posts from January, 2012

Lovely ladies and the invention of the crisp sandwich

I thought that the first photograph I saw on the packet of British Rail’s complimentary crisps was serendipity: these lovely acrobatic ladies on the beach advertising lightly sea salted crisps made from a variety of potato called Lady Rosetta. 

But today, on my train journey back from Wales to London, the girl in the buffet car gave me the Cheese and Chive flavour, the packet decorated with another, no less lovely in their time, I’m sure, group of women:

Champions of cheese-making perhaps, or cheese-tasting, or maybe they’re the judges at a WI food market. So it seems that Tyrell’s marrying of potato variety, Lady Rosetta again, and photograph is deliberate.
I have yet to research (or Google, as we say these days!) if they make any other flavours using thesame potato variety and whether those packets also bear vintage photographs of groups of women engaged in an appropriate activity. Or whether there’s a male equivalent. King Edward? Red Robin? 
The first crisps of my childhood were Smith…

Testing ground

When I arrived in Wales this week my great-niece told me about a blindfold taste test she was due to have in school as part of their science curriculum. They’ve already done ‘scents and smells’ during which she learned that sniffing too hard at a pile of curry powder isn’t something you want to repeat. 

The taste test wasn’t something she was looking forward to as a 6 year old whose tastes are rather regimented (although if anything comes with a Hello Kitty wrapper she’s more likely to try it) but the test was cancelled, much to her relief, and the class are moving onto ‘materials’ next week. I wonder if ‘Elf and Safety’ had anything to do with that?

‘Why don’t we do our own taste test?’ I suggest.
‘No,’ she says without a moment’s hesitation.
‘Come on,’ I coax. ‘I promise I’ll only give you things you’ll like.’
‘Okay,’ she says.
‘Sunday,’ I say.
‘Is that the day after tomorrow?’ she asks.

I made a list of things I know she likes and wouldn’t be alarmed to find at the end of a spoon: nu…

Home from home: Roast Lamb with Marsala

I started the hungry writer in France when identifying a sense of home seemed more urgent, being much further from either Wales, the country of my birth, or England, my adopted country. Each week I tugged on a thread of memory from my childhood and pulled myself towards home.
France feels very far away now, emotionally, even though it’s only been less than three months since we moved back. I spoke to a friend in Antibes yesterday and she told me about l’hiver incroyable they’re enjoying: 18 degrees during the day and the usual Mediterranean blue sky. I thought I’d miss the easy climate, the light, the sea but the British winter has been so incroyablement mild too with lots of clear skies, and I get to see the sea every month during my trips to Wales. And there are not many better beaches than this in the world. Forget about heat, palm trees, sunbeds. I’m talking about good sand, space, the sense of being swallowed by the sea, the noise of a high tide at night hitting the sea wall. 

It d…

The proof of the pudding

I discovered fountains during my pre-Christmas shopping. Not the water spouting out of a stone sculpture or dancing to music kind, but the firework kind you bung in the top of a Christmas pudding and light so it resembles a bomb you might associate with the Roadrunner and Wily Coyote. You know the type – round, with Acme stamped on it and fizzing with inevitable destruction.
I know, it’s hardly traditional, and I did pick a sprig of holly in the orchard on Christmas morning all ready for the brandy flambĂ© performance. But the firework seemed like more fun. And I’d also had a mishap with flambĂ©ing in my mother’s kitchen a couple of weeks earlier when I melted the edge of her cooker fan (sorry, Mam!).
The fountains came in packs of three and I have one left. We liked the first fountain in the pudding so much we decided to light a second one. And this last one is destined for another pudding in the near future. Not necessarily pudding as in round and fruity but as in pudding after lunch o…