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Tins ain't what they used to be!

ITHANK reporter Graham Young, a reviewer of bargain basement cuisine, a man whose spare time is taken rating chippies, for pushing Carnation evaporated milk back into the public consciousness.

In a surprise churn, Graham - tasked with crafting a feature on the Chinese New Year - discovered shelves stacked with the 1970s favourite in Oriental supermarkets.

The Chinese love the stuff, he informed readers of our digital sister BirminghamLive. That surprises Yours Truly. Evaporated milk does not lend itself to chopsticks.

As a result of his discovery, the award-winning wordsmith gave the Year of the Pig - in Birmingham, an event that has been celebrated in some style - something of a cold shoulder for a nostalgic tribute to, er, evaporated milk.

My eyes were moist, I'll admit, as the memories came flooding back, prompted by Graham's "send me your memories of evaporated milk" appeal.

As a question, that's down there with "Have you a treasured digestive dunking moment?" "Tell us your most embarrassing melted chocolate faux pas" perhaps? Maybe "Have you lost fillings while eating nut brittle?" I have written a letter to the Birmingham Mail about forcing a schoolfriend with a nut allergy to play Russian roulette with Revels.

It has not been published, perhaps because of fears about copycat chocolate crimes.

Nevertheless, Graham's words opened a can of schoolboy reminiscences.

"Carnation was the distinctivetasting 'cream' your aunties and grannies would add to fruit that had also been tinned - but only after being poured into a cream jug first to give it an extra touch of class," he recalled.

While readers gushed over dads slurping the stuff, my memories were more bittersweet.

In 1989, my enraged wife threw a Carnation can that struck me above the left eye. The wound needed to be sealed with stitches.

I do not blame Graham for bringing troubled marital times back into sharp focus.

My wife has lashed out with an assortment of foodstuffs, including a frozen chicken that brought kaleidoscopic colours to my eyes.

A thwack to the back of the neck with a humble leek sent stuff from my nose.

Leeks don't kill people. Menopausal housewives kill people.

I also recall how a can of evaporated milk was poured into Colin Cox's sleeping bag during a scout camp jape.

He was simply happy we didn't reach for the condensed milk.

The article is in-depth. Graham reveals evaporated milk's origins, what it is, and why the Chinese like it: the label is red, which is a lucky colour.

I like purple, but steer clear of aubergines.

That, however, is not the only reason. Famed Birmingham restaurateur James Wong explained: "Chinese cooks use Carnation Milk for egg tarts.

"Evaporated milk is also used in dessert soups, which can be served after big banquets at events like weddings."

Milking it: Graham Young Frankly, a bowl of warming evaporated milk broth does not tickle my fancy, but James Wong knows his stuff. When it comes to Chinese food, Mr Wong is always right.

Graham has not discovered a culinary Holy Grail. Cans of Carnation are still out there.

They can still be found, in numbers, on shelves, but the milk's popularity has waned. The sweet success has turned sour.

It was of its time: a time when tinned fruit cocktail, served in a sea of syrup, and mint cake - slabs of congealed sugar - were considered healthy options. Vegans were something from Star Trek.

The younger generation is oblivious to the delights of evaporated milk.

That was illustrated by my young nephew.

Asked what evaporated milk was, he replied: "Is that what the Invisible Man drinks?" Having tasted the stuff, he now believes it comes from "special cows".

My eyes I'll admit, memories back, Graham's your evaporated That stems from mum and dad telling him milkshakes are made by cows with pogo-sticks.

Having tracked down Carnation, I urge Graham to find the true lost cuisines of yesteryear. Vesta meals and Pop-Tarts must be lurking on dusty shelves.

What price the last packet of Spangles or a pristine tin of Crawford's Rover assorted biscuits? Hunt down the beverages of our youth, Graham.

Find a bottle of Corona pop, a tin of Watney's Party 7, the oversized beer vessel unlocked with a tin-opener.

Then I'll sit up and take notice.

were moist, as the came flooding prompted by "send me memories of milk" appeal Graham's article does underline milk's nearmagical diversity. Cleopatra even bathed in the stuff: presumably, she couldn't find a cow big enough for a shower.

There's pasteurised, sterilised, evaporated, condensed...

There's even a new variety from heifers who have just given birth. Decalfinated.

YOU'VE GOT TO LAUGH...AFTER unsuccessfully entering my pin three times, my wife groaned. These voodoo dolls are amazing.

JUST written a book about the history of ladders. It's a step by step by step by step guide.

IF someone calls me Tom Tom one more time I'm going to tell them where to go.

NEWS that Karl Marx's tomb has been damaged by a hammer makes me sickle.

SOMEONE who makes their fortune from ships is a shipping magnate. Someone who makes their fortune from oil is an oil magnate. What's someone who makes their fortune from fridges? ONE man sells rotten vegetables, another rotten fruit. Who is the grocer?

by Find

My eyes were moist, I'll admit, as the memories came flooding back, prompted by Graham's "send me your memories of evaporated milk" appeal
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 15, 2019
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