Tag Archives: crumpets

Nigella saves breakfast: a true story

Late  Saturday morning and I’m in my pyjamas, nursing a light hangover. I fell for crumpets in a big way the other week, as I do every year when the weather gets chilly. I pop a couple in the toaster and go to the fridge, when – disaster strikes. A flashback of me scraping the last ounce of butter from its paper the night before. And now, there is nothing to spread on my breakfast treat, and I am bereft.

I toy with my options. I could put on the outfit I reserve specially for a quick dash to the corner shop: white baggy branded jogging bottoms, an enormous bright red hoodie and my battered trainers (I fancy that they think I’ve been jogging – ha! – and am popping into the shop on the way back…) But I still have the imprint of where my pillow squished into my face, so there’s no way I can pull that off today. I could try crumpets ‘with a twist’? I cast my eye around for any fat I have to hand. Olive oil? No. Vegetable oil? An involuntary shudder. I can’t do it to the crumpet, let alone my taste buds. What about un crumpet au nature, naked of butter, but doused in honey? Unacceptable.

What to do? The clock is ticking. The edges of the crumpets are starting to curl and crisp in the toaster, indicating that they’re ready to invite lashings of melted butter into their bottomless wells. This really is going to ruin my morning. I need to act quickly.

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The best of times, the worst of times…

Tastes that take me back to a good place in my childhood: 

  1. Crumpets with butter
  2. Hula hoops dipped in salad cream
  3. Milk loaf
  4. Apples cut into pieces and dipped in sugar – a treat at my grandparents’ house
  5. Cornflakes in cream – another luxury courtesy of my grandparents, and the only way they could get me to drink milk.
  6. Peas popped straight out of their pods and into my mouth in my grandparents’ back garden
  7. My mum’s apple and blackberry pie
  8. The dust on jelly babies and marshmallows

 Things I never want to taste again from my childhood: 

  1. Low fat toffee yoghurts
  2. Awful supermarket own-brand frozen French bread pizzas (or any brand for that matter)
  3. Findus crispy pancakes – any time I want to test my gag reflex I only need to think of these claggy atrocities that made my time at the dinner table feel eternal. Chewing through the crisp exterior as fast as possible so that the bland, soggy innards engulfed the throat-constricting taste of those luminous breadcrumbs. Realising that the whole sorry mess had now welded itself to the roof of my mouth and would need dislodging manually if I was ever going to swallow the damn thing. Trying to coax it down using my tongue, then having to open my mouth and prod it with a finger or fork, the sudden rush of air throwing the nauseating flavours into even sharper relief. Understanding that any resistance to the dish my mother has placed in front of me will mean going through this process with a cold Findus crispy pancake, the enclosed sauce solidifying just a little more after each and every mouthful. Admitting defeat against this inanimate weapon and dispatching of it with a shudder for another week.
  4. No-frills chocolate chip cookies. Disappointingly pale cookies that don’t actually save you any money because you need about six no-frills cookies to get anywhere near the satisfaction of just one frilly biscuit (although I’ve never been known to stop at just one of those either). It always felt as if, at the end of the day in the biscuit factory, anything that the cleaner had swept up of the floor went into this one last lucky batch of cookies. This theory would explain the cardboard taste and the miniscule crumbs of ‘chocolate’.
  5. Dried parmesan cheese. A deluge of memories: shaking it onto mum’s first spaghetti bolognese and almost choking with excitement at the thought of our family being so very Continental; my brother and I, bored in the school holidays, daring each other to inhale the fumes from that plastic shaker for as long as possible; remembering much later in life with dismay that this substance was stored in the cupboard – the cupboard! – and not the fridge. (It’s probably still there – when I was 14 I found a tub of strawberry milkshake powder in my mum’s cupboard with a use-by date that pre-dated my birth…)
  6. Those horrible fake smarties you get in plastic walking sticks at theme parks and fairs. Fake chocolate in general, like those foil-wrapped chocolate footballs and Easter eggs public-facing corporations give away at open days.
  7. Kellogg’s Squares. Set my teeth on edge and make the hairs on my arms stand on end. They’re almost alive, the way they react in your mouth.
  8. Bacon bits – strange little gravelly brown chips that we weren’t quite sure what to do with in our house. They left a dubious fluorescent orange stain on any moist surface they came into contact with and gave me meteorologically important indigestion. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, visit your local Harvester’s salad bar – I’m sure they’ll still be there.

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