I’ve been thinking about recipes where the only proper thing to use is a convenience food rather than making an ingredient from scratch – for example, an obvious one is that real custard is made from Bird’s custard powder – sure, you can use cornflour and an egg in an emergency, though it wouldn’t be quite right, but in a trifle, making a ‘proper’ egg custard would just be wrong. Oh, and making the cake for it is a bit dubious, too. Bought trifle sponges or boudoir biscuits are fine. By the way, powdered custard which you make up with hot water may be kept for when you are desperate, I suppose, but it’s pretty rubbish. It has no body or substance to it and tastes of artificial sweetener. It has no place in trifle. And is barely passable on a treacle pudding or jam sponge. I agree with Sarah that tinned custard is fine though – and, for a trifle, it has the advantage of already being cold.
Salad Niçoise in a smart restaurant is a case in point. Seared fresh tuna is wrong. It has to be tinned. And those pallid salted anchovy fillets from the deli – no, it has to be the dark brown ones from a tin or jar. Anything else just disappoints. And, in fact, it’s not even correct.
My mother used to make proper Boston Baked Beans, about once every five years. I did, once or twice, many years ago, and tasty it was. But it’s hardly the real thing. Beans, it has to be said, meanz Heinz.
I don’t often use tomato ketchup, but there are times when nothing else will do. With shepherd’s or cottage pie, for instance. And fish fingers. And fish cakes, come to that.
There are foods which we remember from childhood, which are still a (possibly slightly guilty) pleasure, but that’s not quite what I mean – it’s foods or dishes that are actually more authentic when a tin or a packet is used. I thought I’d come up with a whole long list but, now I’m writing it down, I can’t think of many. Any suggestions? If so, I’ll add them to the post. Credited, of course.
Stock cubes (Sablonneuse)
Milk from a bottle rather than straight from the cow (Dave)
Oven chips (Mrs Rine)
Marmite as a flavouring agent (Allotment queen)
Worcestershire Sauce (Wendy)
Packet jelly (Wendy)
Tinned custard (Sarah)
Amoretti biscuits (Sarah)
Fish stock (Sarah)
Campbell’s Tomato soup (Martina & Luckyzmom)
Wyler’s Chicken or Beef crystals (broth concentrate) (Martina)
Heinz Catsup/Ketchup (Martina)
Ground mustard (Martina)