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Nigel Slater's Great British Biscuit
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“This is a bit like the first scone I ever baked,” huffs and puffs Nigel Slater, bashing a biscuit with a cannonball. “My dad threw it on the lawn for the birds and it was there six months later.” The biscuit under attack was Admiral Nelson’s secret weapon, sustaining his navy (and his ships’ weevils) through long months at sea.
Following on from his festive documentary about sweets last year, Slater pays homage to the humble biscuit. From an excitable expert, we learn what Rich Teas have in common with fighter planes, why biscuit connoisseurs smack their lips when they taste “pet shop”, and the requisite length for a Bourbon cream (he even gets out his tape measure to prove it).
Slater almost chokes up when he’s allowed to thumb through a rare recipe book, and his ode to biscuit tins is pure poetry. It’s deliciously nostalgic but should only by enjoyed with a packet of your personal favourites – or you may find yourself gnawing at the remote control.
The food writer charts the origins of the humble biscuit, from its vital contribution to Britain's former maritime dominance of the globe, through to the biscuit tin becoming a ubiquitous household item. He also explores the history of famous brands, uncovering the Georgian and Quaker roots of varieties eaten today, and meets devotees who have dedicated their lives to a love of these simple baked treats.
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