Way before Delia went rogue and started recommending ready meals, our Home Ec teacher had apparently given up on ever teaching us to actually cook. We spent half a term in Year 7 learning about “convenience ingredients”, culminating in making a dish of our choice from them.
I chose to make an apple crumble. From tinned apple chunks and ready-made crumble. This despite the fact that other than convenience ingredients, the ONLY things I ever remember making in Home Ec were recipes that involved either rubbing fat into flour or making a bechamel sauce. So I was literally substituting in packet-mix for one of the two things I did know how to make.
It was quite horrible.
Crumble score: 3/10
Second year of university, putting those rubbing-fat-into-flour skills to good use. I have made a rhubarb crumble, because I like a rhubarb crumble and because even though I am pretending to be fiercely independent I am craving things that remind me of home.
My brilliant, beautiful housemate comes home starving after a lacrosse match. I offer her crumble; she is delighted. She takes one bite, standing in the kitchen, still covered in mud and wearing several layers of clothes.
Her delight visibly turns to disgust. She very clearly hates it. She very clearly does not want to tell me that she hates it.
She chews determinedly. (More chewing than is really required by a smooshy crumble). She swallows. Hard.
“It’s quite an… unusual… flavour, isn’t it Vics? And the texture is… not what I was expecting.”
- She thought it was an apple crumble.
- She had never tasted rhubarb before.
- She dislikes rhubarb very much.
Crumble score: 8/10 (me), 1/10 (her)
Missing the Parkland Walk, I set out to find West London’s best blackberrying spot. Promisingly, found a spot down by the canal called “Blackberry Corner”. That was not an unfounded boast; it really is exceptionally brambley.
Along the way, we kept seeing little yellow plums on the ground. “How strange,” I thought, “that someone would bring so many plums and not notice that they were dropping them.”
After about 40 minutes of pondering, I finally looked up. Ah. We’d been walking through a veritable forest of plum trees. Google told me they were mirabelles. We picked an enormous bagful.
Back home, they turned out to be mostly stone and largely flavourless. I spent over an hour pitting them; they cooked down into a pitifully small amount of compote. I rescued them in the only way I know how: rubbing fat into flour, and getting two tiny ramekins of middling pudding.
Crumble score: 7/10 (5 for the crumble, but 2 extra for urban foraging smuggery)