Monday 26 September 2011

On biscuits

Hello loyal and long-suffering readers. Been a while, by my recent blogging output's ridiculously high standards, hasn't it? Of course, older readers will have been sagely nodding to themselves about my return to form. Anyway, life and stuff and things distracted me last week. However, hopefully this week I can get back on the rails - or back on my alarmingly large steed Megahorse - and give your already groaning RSS feed readers something else to blurt at you.

But to anyone who's been feeling worried and/or deprived by my absence (yeah, right) - I apologise. You could probably have followed my little breadcrumb trails around the internets, but of course the risk there is that they all lead to my gingerbread house.

And that leads me neatly on to the subject of biscuits. Rest assured that, even if I wasn't able to find time to blog I WAS able to find time to eat biscuits. I attribute my robust and manly 46-stone physique to biscuits. They are a constant companion in my life, be it at breakfast time, religious holidays or on train journeys.

What I am about to say may strike fear into your very bowels, but it's now less than 3 months until Christmas. If you don't see at least one biscuit selection tin over the festive season, then I think it's fair to say that you've managed to upset both Father Christmas AND the little baby Jesus over the past 12 months. They are a festive staple. I'll happily asset strip all of your selection tins, given half a chance. I'm a dangerous man to know, and not just because of my inevitably skyrocketing and near-volcanic cholesterol level. However, this year I thought I'd use my years of eating Cookie Monster under the fucking table for good as well as for frenzied, crumby, explosions of gluttony. But for that we're going to need A DIAGRAM.

Oh, here's one here. Pictured are many of the old familiar biscuits from selection tins. Firstly, these will be in your Normal Standard selection tin. The sort made by our most esteemed biscuit makers. Far be it from me to say which are the best, but it is Fox's. Cadbury's, too, usually produce on the big holiday biscuit stage, but they can't compete with the precision engineering and centuries of biscuit knowledge and experience of Fox's. Biscuits are an interesting food group, in that you only get what you pay for up to a certain point, and it's the point I've just mentioned. Beyond that you get all sort of luxury crap, with dried lingonberries and macadamia nuts and brandy snap biscuits dipped in yoghurt and ghastly things with chocolate on only one side. That's not for me.

Anyway, without further ado here's my insider guide to what to look out for when choosing your biscuit. (incidentally, I have not pictured any of the Viennese sandwich type biscuits, nor any of the cream sandwich biscuits. This is because by the time you reach the tin, I'll have already eaten them).

Biscuit 1 Caution is advised here. Note the thinness and the decoration. A sure sign this biscuit will be very plain and disappointing. Sidestep this one for the first pass.

Biscuit 2 You know when you go to the zoo? You go to see elephants, penguins, lions and tigers. But you know damn sure you'll be looking at a lot of zebras and nondescript African cattle as well. Biscuit 2 is the zebra of the biscuit tin. Filler. Some of them can be very nice, especially if it's got a shortbread centre. Increasingly, though, these are bafflingly crystalline in texture, or inexplicably and unnecessarily flavoured with raspberries. If you're chocolate-covering your biscuit, do us all a favour and keep the biscuit plain.

Biscuits 3 and 4 The unassuming stars of the tin. Look fairly unpromising but their chunky solidity is very telling of one key thing: high chocolate ratio. The risk with 4 is it might be slyly concealing a wafer, but a quick check for depth with your biscuit calipers should set your mind at rest.

Biscuit 5 Ah. Foil-wrapped. The loser's dream ticket. These biscuits are often chosen by the inexperienced or unwary biscuit eater. For the biscuit pro, I'm quite grateful. They lure the eye and the hand to a usually fairly disappointing thing which tastes of oranges a bit. And that's if you're LUCKY.

Biscuit 6 They're chocolate-covered finger shortbread biscuits! With three different coverings, milk, dark or white chocolate! Milk is best and will be eaten first, unless your biscuit eaters are highly foolish. Or you just offered the tin to an elephant and he's shovelling great trunkfuls in without really chewing.

Biscuit 7 Good shortbread.

Biscuit 8 Rubbish shortbread.

Biscuit 9 The Oblong Biscuit. It's sometimes foil-wrapped, it's sometimes not. Sometimes it's milk chocolate, or somethimes it's white. Either way, you know it's going to be wafer. And there's your guarantee of variable quality RIGHT THERE.

I hope this guide helps you make better choices come biscuit season this year. I would stress, though, that no selection tin I've encountered has yet been perfect. Indeed, until the selection tin is made up of the following, our search continues: Tunnock's Teacakes, Viennese chocolate sandwich biscuits, Biscuit 3 (above), Chocolate chip and hazelnut cookie, Party rings, my mum's homemade gingerbread men and the biscuits I ate on the train yesterday.

Make it happen, Biscuiteers!

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