Skip to main content

Eating cake with Sir Edmund Hillary

"How about a Kendal Mint Cake?" asks the woman in Outdoor World, Porthmadog, North Wales.

"No thanks," I say. "I don't like the idea of mint flavoured cake." I'm due a 60p refund on an exchange of women's waterproof trousers, that could have seen me and the Andrews Sisters wearing them all at once, (and dancing), for a pair that the packet says fits 11/12 year olds. All I can say is, 'they breed 'em big in North Wales'.

I tell her not to worry about the refund. "Put it in the charity box when you cash up," I say. But the 'system' doesn't allow for that.

"You've paid for it so you might as well try it now," she says, handing me one. Then, "You're not diabetic, are you?" 

I needn't have worried about the 'cake' because it's not cake at all as I'm sure a lot of you already know. Committed hikers and climbers are now probably all shaking their heads in despair because they eat these babies for breakfast. But only because that's the last thing remaining at the bottom of their rucksack after being stranded on a hail-scarred mountainside for 72 hours and it's either that or your fellow climber's arm. Just kidding. 

If I had been a diabetic then I should have been worried. The quantity of sugar and glucose syrup in one of these bars makes your gums ache with even the smallest of slices. Not that they slice that well. They shatter.
But they do soften surprisingly quickly in your mouth. Think After Eight Mint on steroids and you'll get a pretty good idea of their texture and taste. And enjoyable in small amounts. I'd be happy to share my bar, in the event of a desperate food shortage, with at least three others.

And Sir Edmund? Romney's, a mint cake manufacturer in Cumbria since 1936, were asked in 1953 if they could quickly come up with enough mint cake to supply the Everest expedition which allowed Sir Edmund Hillary and Sirdar Tensing to munch their way through a couple when they reached the summit.

And in honour of Sir Edmund here's a little icy cliff face of mint cake for you to climb in your imaginations.

See those specks of chocolate? You're nearly at the top, keep going.

Hungry writing prompt
Write about climbing something: stairs, a tree, a mountain.

Popular posts from this blog

Pie, pie glorious pie

So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to t…

Eat, laugh, cry, remember: Baked Camembert

Once, on a holiday in Malta, I dressed Tony up in my gypsy skirt and stretchy white vest, used two satsumas for breasts and made up his eyes and lips with the brightest colours I had with me. Then I took a photograph. He didn’t seem to mind, in fact he seemed quite tickled by the fuss and attention to detail, but the quantity of rosé we’d shared at Snoopy’s restaurant on the seafront in Sliema earlier in the evening might have had something to do with that.

This was 1988. There were no digital cameras for instant viewing (and, praise be, instant deletion). The only instant photographs at the time came courtesy of Polaroid, with their packages of square film and box-like cameras, and slid out of the front of the machine on shiny thick card that everyone huddled over and watched develop. But they tended to be party cameras, appearing at Christmas, birthdays, engagements. You captured your holiday photos on a proper camera, one you had to load and feed film into, then unload and drop off…

The Mythic Biscuit: Oreos

My childhood biscuits were mainly plain but had lovely names: Marie, Nice, Rich Tea. Quiet biscuits. The kind of biscuits that would never interrupt a conversation. Polite, not pushy. At the other end of the spectrum, and only irregularly present, probably a result of practical economics, were cheeky Jammy Dodgers, irritable Garibaldis, and self-contented and reliable Bourbons. And even more irregularly, the flashy inhabitants of a Christmas Box of Biscuits: Pink Wafers. I ate them at the same time as not liking them very much, a bit like Miss World Contestants in sparkly dresses, too much eye make-up and a saccharine idea of world peace. 
I'm in the mood to think, and personify, 'biscuits' because the lovely team at Oreo sent me some samples of their new Oreo Thins. I hadn't heard of Oreos until the early 1990s when a friend asked if I would bring him back a packet from a Florida holiday. I forgot and pretended I couldn't find them. 'But they're everywher…