Me want cookie. – Cookie Monster, Sesame Street
I’ve underestimated the biscuit in recent years. Previously in my life, biscuits were as common as the sun and the moon and the stars. Astronomy and gastronomy only diverged when it came to what demanded more romantic literature to be made out of them. They had been equals in my childhood, even contemporaries, when I read about many midnight feasts in Enid Blyton books. But, as with everything else when it comes to love, the more accessible midnight became, the less I appreciated it. The more biscuits I had, the less I relished them.
Not even a month ago, I asked at a local grocery store for some Britannica thin arrowroot biscuits – the only kind I eat now. The shopkeeper looked clueless, until I realised my mistake. I should have asked for Britannia thin arrowroot biscuits – an institution in Indian snacking habits, and the only kind my family ever liked – and not for biscuits made out of the encyclopaedia. It wasn’t just Ol’ Blighty playing with my brain. The Freudian slip showed that my brain cared more for knowledge than for biscuits. Which, I confess, horrifies me.
But, you claimed to be a geek a while back, didn’t you Amrita? I hear ye faithful reader say. Well, to be rather pedantic, I claimed to geeking out, not being a geek myself. Thirsting after knowledge, not being knowledgeable myself. If I had to choose between being full of knowledge and full of biscuits, I’d choose knowledge. But, I know my true, animal self would much prefer biscuits. Like the orange cream ones Britannia used to make in the nineties.
That is the problem. Nostalgia. Biscuits were something you could count on. If it said Good Day on the packet, it meant it. If it said Nice, it was Nice. Actually, the Britannia Nice (now Nice Time) has still maintained its flavour – thin coconut biscuits with spare crystals of sugar on top. Nice but not so nice that it makes you want to finish the pack then and there. Biscuits have also suffered from rampant consumerism. You no longer take a couple from a pile or a jar, and lie back with your hot beverage of choice, and savour till the bottom of your cup gets cold. No, you pounce on them, tear up their flesh and bones, mangle them between your orthodontic teeth and then swallow them along with your overly-sugared choco-latte-blatte-whatte-ver and say, yes that was what I needed.
This is what has f**ked up biscuits. Consumerism. I am not going to blame it on one country, not just because most of my readers are from there, but because it is a cheap, easy shot. They know what has gone wrong with the ‘bigger and more’ philosophy. They don’t need my heritage of mystic simplicity that I myself do not possess (I am more spiritually bankrupt than the easy association with my origins will tell the foreign reader) to know it all went wrong with large Starbucks mugs. That amount of coffee should be divided into three coffee cups, to be had at three different times of the day. If you just bring down your relationship with coffee/tea to cups, not mugs, even espresso shots – you’d feel so much better about all of it. You wouldn’t need your coffee or cuppa anymore. You’d want it.
But, there is one other issue, and though I know it is going to make me universally unpopular, I’ll say it. Chocolate. Chocolate has f**ked up biscuits. There’s just too many chocolate biscuits out there. And they are so lazily done. Here you go – some flour, some refined sugar and something that is reminiscent of chocolate. Add chocolate to anything, and people will lap it up. Make chocolate flavoured toothpaste, and look how your dental hygiene product sales rise up. Scent the armpits of your shirts and blouses with chocolates, and sell even more. Who wants a normal biscuit? Biscuits only make sense with the idea of chocolate in them.
Did you know the world is running out of chocolate? That in future, chocolate might become as precious as gold? Does anybody know whether they have already invented synthetic chocolate?
A good chocolate biscuit is a thing of beauty. By some Keatsian logic, that makes it a joy forever. But, just like all chocolate does not have to go into the biscuit industry, not all biscuits, at least the appetizing ones, need to have chocolate in them. There are other things in life, you know. Though, I agree, they may not all taste as good as chocolate.
I know what many of you slow food enthusiasts are asking me – have you visited bakeries? Or thought about making your own biscuits? None of that mass-produced stuff, you know? Yes, yes I have. My life has been biscuit-scarce for a few years now, and though it may have started out as a diet thing, it seems I’ve replaced it with other processed, fatty food. I now think, if I paid more for my food, I might eat less. Or if I endeavoured to make every scrap of it, I’d be too hot and bothered to eat at all.
But, just like Patrick Jane from The Mentalist said about tea (“It’s like a hug in a cup.”), biscuits are like little cuddles. Little Hearts, also a popular Indian biscuit. You depend on them, not ravage them up. Next time you bite into your favourite, imagine the world has gone slo-mo and you’re in a commercial. Imitate the look of orgasmic joy found in said commercial. And before you can laugh at all the silliness, you realise, it tastes rather good. And blimey, you may even find your meaning in life. I certainly did when I bit into an oatmeal cookie this morning.
Do you like biscuits/cookies? What’s your favourite kind? Is there a special way you like to have them?