How to Eat: Biscuits
Tea and cookies. It is undoubtedly Britain’s most important food and drinks ritual. How to Eat addresses this issue. Get the kettle and prepare for a dust-up like Garibaldi’s take on the Bourbons.
The Jaffa cake is settled in law. Let’s not get into that. Instead, let’s talk about Britain’s intuitive, shared understanding of a cookie. This understanding transcends technical definitions. Cakes are hardened when they’re stale, and biscuits are softened. You will also find incorrectly stacked biscuits in supermarket aisles.
A biscuit can be described as a mixture of sugar, butter, fat, and flour. It could be covered with one layer of chocolate or sandwiched with a jam or cream filling. But I think we all agree that it’s not:
* Fig rolls. When you were eight, your friend invited you to her house for a biscuit. She gave you a fig roll, and you said, “What the bleedin’ ell is that?” This is still true.
* Any item individually wrapped in chocolate and completely covered with chocolate. These aren’t biscuits; they’re chocolate bars or biscuits. They are chocolate-led, not chocolate. Have you ever thought: “Mmm, this Club sounds wonderful, but what if they put a little more chocolate on it?” They haven’t. The biscuit is just a container for chocolate delivery. You eat the chocolate and then eat the biscuit. Next, you will claim that Twix, Kit Kats and Tunnock’s caramel wafers constitute biscuits. They are not. When you were growing up, did your “biscuit box” have all these items? What do you know? Spoiled.
* Oatcakes. David Cameron, talking about Little Lord Fauntleroy’s, said that his favourite “biscuit” was oatmeal with butter & cheese. Dave, it’s not a biscuit. That’s the cheese course.
* Cookies. They are big, bold US invaders. They are oversweet, too sweet, and completely dysfunctional. Why would I choose random chocolate nuggets when there is one layer of chocolate that evenly covers the entire biscuit?
The most popular and delicious biscuits
* Rich Tea. Why would you do that to yourself if you don’t live in a monastery? People who are either afraid of the taste or in a painful phase of delusional, diet-denial self-denial are not allowed to drink Rich Tea. They are also notoriously poor drinkers.
* Bourbons. What about cocoa and dark chocolate? They’re supposed to taste like that. Seriously? Because I get an artificial tang of some indistinguishable dark and a little cheap.
* Jam rings. This should theoretically work. However, most high-street versions are difficult to make: Two pieces of dry-out biscuit wrapped in a nugget jam so chewy that it could eat your fillings.
* Hobnobs. This is prima facie evidence that capitalism can continue to exist by creating artificial demand and buying unnecessary products. Was there anyone in the 80s who longed for a flapjack-digestive combination so sweet that it sparkles with sugars? No. No. Although the Hobnob is well-known for its drinkability and ability to retain moisture, integrity and taste, you’ll soon discover that dunking can transform those oats into a slurry.
* Shortbread. Only the most patriotic Scots would like shortbread. It’s almost like Runrig. Rab C. Nesbitt. Too rich, buttery, yet somehow dry, and with that sugary coating, a bit paranoid, they are unpleasantly contradictory and so claggy, it’s hard to eat one (or three; see below) without finishing your cup. That level of lubrication should not be required for any biscuit.
* Iced rings: This is a birthday party for a five-year-old. No? They are doing what?
Sting has a tantric, and I have biscuits. This is a wonderful pleasure that should be enjoyed for as long as possible. There are two main methods for dunking biscuits: ginger snaps, digestives and malted milk. Non-dunking sandwich cookies, such as Oreo and custard cream, can also be used.
It’s a three-step process for dunkers: 1. Dunk half the biscuit, then suck/eat the dunked portion; 2. Dunk half of the remaining biscuit (a quarter of the original biscuit) and eat that; 3. Dunk the final triangle of the biscuit while pinching one corner. You can eat the chocolate-covered biscuit by dipping it in chocolate and then eating the remaining biscuit. This is dangerous because you might overdrink the biscuit or apply too much pressure to your tongue. But persevere. You will eventually reach a level where you can look at it and gauge how much liquid and stress a biscuit can withstand.
Sandwich biscuits can be made by carefully removing one layer with your front teeth. You can lick the fondant off until you reach the last layer. – gently soften with your spit. Heaven.
Notes about dunking
Some people consider dunking rude and declasse. They live miserable, cold life. Only in dunking (obligatory Peter Kay hyperlink ) can Britain’s two most beloved biscuits, the ginger snap and the milk chocolate digestive, reach perfection. The ginger biscuit is transformed into a sensory experience with its soft outer pulp and hardcore. This creates a texture almost like toffee but with a sharper gingery flavour. The chocolate digestif, on the other hand, transforms from a dry snack into a sweet, soft, and reassuring chocolate-rich confection. It is the ultimate British comfort food.
Maximum number of biscuits per sitting
Three. The first one is pure pleasure. The second one extends it. However, the arc has slowed down by the third. The fourth biscuit will make you feel sick, guilty, or soiled.
If you don’t want to ruin your appetite, biscuits are what you should eat in between meals. These baked uppers are what punctuate your day. They can be eaten between 10.30-11.30 am and 3.30-4.30 pm.
You must pour the tea into a large-mouthed mug. If you are eating three biscuits, it is best to use a pint mug. Do not drink the tea after you have finished dunking the biscuits. To clear your palate and quench your thirst, however, you’ll need to drink a full pint after three biscuits.
If you have a mishap with your dunking and accidentally drop a biscuit in your cup of tea, immediately stop and park the biscuits. Then, turn on the kettle again. The entire “session” will be destroyed, down to the last bitty morsel. Although you may be able to find the rogue piece of biscuit, your brew will be destroyed. Accept it, and then start again.
My house doesn’t require you to remove your shoes. You can smoke a pipe and leave the toilet seat up. We’ll have words if you eat a biscuit and go without a plate. You are obviously not catching the crumbs in your hands, and the biscuit looks too fragile balanced on your mug’s rim. You barbarian, I have many plates.