Of Custard Powder and Fables

I ordered Horne’s custard powder from Canada, and, to all the Britons out there, no, The Boffin is not starting divorce proceedings.  To the Americans out there, custard powder is a staple within the U.K. and many Commonwealth countries because custard is either served by itself, primarily to children, or it is served with so many desserts the same way you would with whipped cream or ice cream.  It is much quicker and easier to make than traditional custard because you don’t have to worry about curdled eggs.  All you have to do is heat with milk.

It was first invented by a chemist named Alfred Bird of Swansea back in 1837 because his wife was allergic to eggs and couldn’t enjoy traditional custard.  Mrs. Bird was a lucky lass, I say.

The British brand of choice is still Bird’s custard powder, and The Boffin still thinks it has a smoother, silkier mouth feel.  However, we decided to pick up a tin of Horne’s when we visited Canada.  I happen to like that brand better because it has vanilla, and it has four different starches which give it a fuller texture.  So we decided to alternate tins.  This is how an Anglo-American marriage works, folks.  Neither side claims superiority.

Besides, Bird’s is better for making custard creams.

Regardless, the Canadian company where I bought the powder sent a fable with its packing slip.  Service with a smile, so I thought I would pass it along.




All Dressed Up and Here in the States

To meet with the food industry’s trend of limited edition edibles designed to torque off the consumers by giving us things that we like and then taking them away from us, Frito Lay decided to release a special version of Ruffles that is only available until December 7th.  Dubbed the #1 Flavor in Canada, they presented us with the All Dressed Chip.

All Dressed for what?  I am not sure.  If there are Canadians who can answer that question, I am open to hearing the answers.


Now, in case we couldn’t figure out that this flavor (flavour) was popular in Canada by the description, Frito Lay was kind enough to not only put one maple leaf where the endorsement was, but they kindly placed a blown-up maple leaf in the background to add that visual je ne sais quoi, meaning “We don’t know what we are doing.” And if we Americans couldn’t figure out the Canadian theme after that, let’s look on the back.


Nothing says Canada more than a bowl of chips stylishly placed next to a hockey stick on the ice and artistically out-of-focus players’ legs with the bag seam chopping the photo all up.  Nice touch.  I don’t know what could have made it better.  Perhaps Don Cherry in one of his loud suits holding the bowl of chips?  A quote from him telling us how these chips would have been the ones that old-time hockey players would have eaten after they whaled on each other, if they had their own teeth?

So it is all down to hockey and maple leaves, isn’t it?

Let me say, to Canada, I formally apologize for the packaging and the awful representation Frito Lay made of your nation.  It’s embarrassing.  Truly.

Nevertheless, I had to try these novel chips.  What I ate was pure joy in snack form.  This was an interesting reaction considering I normally would take sweet over savory any day.  But something reacted within me to eat the whole bag in one clip, and I am now compelled to buy and hoard.  Canada has crack too.

Touch my chips and die, asshole!   "Cat chewbacca" by Peter Heeling - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Touch my chips and die, asshole!     “Cat chewbacca” by Peter Heeling – Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

However, I will say the picture on the package was misleading.  It implied that it was like a barbecue chip with vinegar and paprika.  But you couldn’t expect much from the package anyway because, well, look how the geniuses in marketing and advertising described Canada.

I can describe it well to you, the U.K readers.  Imagine getting a hit with the vinegar and then following up with notes of Marmite, smoke, onion, garlic, and paprika.  To the U.S. readers, Marmite is a yeast extract which comes in a jar that is usually spread on toast or some sort of bread product.  When we see different types of yeast extract over here, it is often used instead of MSG as a flavor enhancer.  All I can say to the Americans that if you like salt and vinegar chips, give these a go.

If I don’t buy them all up before you.


Chicago Blackhawks: In the finals, and that’s no lion!

Cher is a Canadian expat living in Chicago, and what I love about her blog, The Chicago Files, is that she uses words and photos to describe her life in such an upbeat and refreshing way. Today’s post is a rather good one. It’s all about the Art Museum’s sticking of hockey helmet’s on their signature lions that stand guard outside in honor of the Chicago Blackhawks reaching the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s a fun way to support your local team, even though my Philadelphia Flyers loyalties are internally grumbling.

The Chicago Files


Well now, what do we have here?  Why, it’s a bronze lion sporting a Chicago Blackhawks helmet!

There is a tradition here in Chicago which I utterly love.  Whenever a Chicago sports team makes the final round or game in their particular sport, the prominent bronze lion statues ‘guarding’ the front of the Art Institute of Chicago get a bit of a makeover.  The helmet or hat of the ‘final round team’ is placed upon the head of each lion (there are two).  At this very moment, the lions are sporting “Chicago Blackhawks” helmets!! (The Chicago Blackhawks are Chicago’s National Hockey League team).

Here’s another angle:


Since 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks have made the final round three times, winning the ultimate hockey prize, the “Stanley Cup” in 2010 and 2013; currently, they are in the 2015 Stanley Cup Series.  Before their monumental win in 2010, the Chicago Blackhawks had not…

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Existential garage sale

One of our friends from North of the Border, Ross Murray brings an astute but comforting wit to the blogging table. I always look forward to every new post of his, and I don’t want to keep his name a secret.

Drinking Tips for Teens

en.wikipedia.org en.wikipedia.org

I held my annual existential garage sale last Saturday. It was scheduled – rain or shine, with a set of core values or without – from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., although who can really know the nature of time as an abstract in a physical world? Certainly not those early birds who showed up at 7 o’clock looking for cheap fundamental truths and free will.

And I specifically said in the ad: “No rational egoists!”

Anyway, I always look forward to this sale to clear out a lot of outdated household goods and personal belief systems. I could just throw them in the trash, I suppose, but it feels much better to say goodbye to, for instance, youthful ambition if I can convince someone to give me three bucks for it.

And wicker. All that wicker. I don’t know how we ended up with so much wicker. So…

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