Tuesday, March 20, 2012

On Biscuts

I take my biscuts seriously. I put considerable thought into choosing the right kind. Just like choosing a movie to watch at a particular time, a novel to suit a particular mood, there is a biscut for every occasion. And one can’t take the task of choosing the right biscut too lightly. A good amount of research and field work has to done, time has to spent in the trenches testing it, and one shouldn’t be too timid to give in to popular choices and easy way outs. One needs true grit and singular focus if you must succeed in this task.

Let’s start with first-thing-in-the-morning biscuits. Amateurs and biscut-apprentices might be tempted to shout out some fancy biscut like bourbon or something like that. But, not so soon. Bourbon is a great biscut – but hardly one you can nibble with your coffee in the morning. Bourbon has lot of things going on – the sugar crystals, the chocolate filling, the crumbly biscut layers – a great mid-day or late-night snack. But not an early morning co-companion. First thing in the morning, you need something that is simple, has a direct and single flavor and should definitely be a team-player: must be able to play off the coffee or tea flavour, and must be a good “dip” or “dunk” candidate which means that it shouldn’t become soggy and drop off into the coffee, and should not alter the flavor of the drink too much. I submit Britannia’s plain Milk Bikis (not the cream filled variant) as possibly the best candidate for this. Other equally good ones are “butter-biscuts” (available in Chennai tea-shops), shewsberry (Pune’s claim to fame) and Hyderabad Sughan bakery biscuits. (Avoid anything that has a cream filling or has some extraneous stuff like sugar crystals or coconut shavings sticking on it.)

For mid-morning or evening snacking: now it won’t hurt too much if you give in to popular choices like bourbons, oreos, or other cream filled biscuits. Now, one is just looking for some short-gap hunger quencher or a sugar-fuelled high, and there are n-number of good candidates for this. The recently introduced Sunfeast strawberry cream biscuits are awesome – try it. (No- Sunfeast is not paying me for writing this.) They have just nailed all aspects of it: perfect crunch and texture, amazing aroma (which hits you the moment you tear open the wrapper), and great color-combo or pink and white cream – just as good as food science can be worked to create a near-perfect product. (Sunfeast also introduced a chocolate cream variety of this – but not as good as the strawberry one.)

One thing you should avoid at all times are the “soft” biscuits. (The ones that don’t break, but tear, with some gooey stuff in the core.) I just don’t get it. A biscut should be brittle, and have a crunch when you bite in. These soft biscuits aim to be both biscuits and chocolates at the same time. That just tells me that the biscut has not made up its mind which camp it wants to join. I don’t want to injest anything as confused as this in me. I have my standards.

And regarding these so called healthy biscuits: first of all, there is nothing of that kind (I mean a healthy biscut). All biscuits are made of a dozen ingredients, most of which are either unhealthy if you eat them on their own, or are chemicals that you would have never heard of or food colors and flavourings, with some traces of some vitamin supplement. So, don't let biscut companies fool you into buying a "healthy biscut". All biscut is junk food, invariably. They are quite enjoyable and that is the reason I buy them – and in moderation it is not so bad.

You might ask, is it worth putting so much thought into choosing something as trivial as a biscut. Such questions will arise only to a mind that eats only healthy food, and possibly is reading Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment or Tolstoy's Anna Karenina and has never enjoyed the sins of food science. (And what a dangerous mind that would be.) Eat some biscuits and let me know if you feel the same way.

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