Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Go back in time with a tin

No, I don't mean that you should make a time-capsule and bury it in your garden, although that is also a Simple Thing To Make And Do - what I meant was that it's easy to cheer oneself up with a treat from one's childhood, and so often these things come in tins.
No, I don't mean that you should raid your store-cupboards for Best Before 1987!  Are you sitting comfortably?  Then I shall explain...

Recently on a visit to the boyfriend's father's house, we met once more with the delightful J, boyfriend's father's girlfriend (sorted that out in your head?  Good-o.)  Supper was being made, and as most men of his age will bf's dad had a whole host of things in his cupboard that he had never eaten, and couldn't remember ever liking, let alone buying.  J on the other hand was delighted to discover a tin of Bird's Custard, which she prepared with relish and set upon the table at pudding as though expecting a prize.

I would have given her that prize.  I used to have Bird's for breakfast as a toddler, and mum despite knowing how could never really be bothered to make 'real' custard after bothering to make a crumble (understandably).  This was the very stuff of puddings, and I devoured it greedily.  The boys on the other hand could hardly believe their eyes - someone actually liked this stuff?  Were they suffering from something?  

It's all about the nostalgia.  It's easy to be snobbish about the sort of cheapy, tinned delights that one habitually gives children; I would rather eat 'real' custard than Bird's most of the time myself; I would rather eat the superb lentejas or lentil and chorizo stew served at a tapas restaurant than Heinz's finest.  Usually.  But on a cold Wednesday, unemployed, alone in the house, more than a little sorry for myself, what better way to invoke happier times than a bowl of baked beans, hotted up in the old pan with the (possibly even older) wooden spoon, a splash of malt vinegar (that's garnish, that is) and a cup of insanely weak tea?  A true madeline moment.

I say it's easy to be snobbish knowing full well that I am as bad as the boyfriend.  Mum once tried to get us to eat Fray Bento's tinned pies, and my god they smelt of cat food.  Many more leftovers for her than usual.  But I'm sure that a significant proportion of those who buy those pies now are not thinking, 'my a tinned pie how convenient' but rather, 'I used to have those when I came home from school and sat in front of those terrible cartoons.  It's a wonder they still make them.  I wonder if they still taste as nice,' and buy three.

Any memories of your own?  Please leave them in the comments, and we can all decide whether you've been blinded by nostalgia or rediscovered a culinary gem ;)

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