How to Cope with Homesickness: Top Ten Nostalgic Puddings

There are many different ways of coping with homesickness. One option is to indulge it completely by eating buttery toasted crumpets and sobbing to an episode of Countryfile. At the other end of the willpower spectrum we have the healthier, low-fat option: ignore the homesickness completely, go exploring, and lose yourself in the ‘otherness’ of your new home. I shall investigate this adventurous cultural immersion another day, but not today. Today is Sunday, and for once I’m not at work (in this part of the world, Sunday is the first day of our working week. I usually start work at 7.30am on a Sunday morning. I KNOW! 7.30AM! It’s against nature). Anyway, in my humble opinion, Sunday is not a day for pushing one’s emotional envelope (so to speak); it’s a cosy, dozy sort of day – a perfect day in fact for giving in to those homesick yearnings and feeding them until they are sated. Homesickness you see is a bit like a hungry, hibernating bear – if you stuff it until it’s full it will go back to sleep again for a while (Disclaimer: this website accepts no liability or responsibility for death or injury brought about as a result of following this advice. We strongly recommend consulting a bear expert before attempting to feed wild bears with nostalgic treats). So, here we are – my somewhat Anglo-centric Top Ten Puddings to sedate the hungry bear of homesickness…

10. Treacle Sponge with CustardCustard
A classic comfort food: hot, sweet and stodgy and immensely satisfying. Best enjoyed with a generous serving of 1980s evening television such as Allo Allo, Bergerac or All Creatures Great and Small (alternatively, just YouTube search advertisements for childhood toys such as Mr Frosty, The Big Yellow Teapot or The Play-Doh Mop Top Hair Shop. THIS IS WHAT THE INTERNET IS FOR). 

9. Tinned Del Monte Pears in syrup
Quick and easy to make (open tin; decant into bowl; eat with spoon – Delia would be proud). My family often enjoy adding double cream and ‘grit’ (grit means granulated sugar. Yes, in addition to the syrup. It’s all about the crunch and texture you see… Sweet tooth? What sweet tooth?)

8. Fresh raspberries
Whilst enjoying afternoon tea at a nearby hotel recently, I was actually reduced to tears by a raspberry. It was so sweet and ripe and aromatic that it swept me away on a wave of English summer afternoons. Honestly, it was so unspeakably delicious I actually cried. I’d always known that smells and tastes could be powerfully evocative, but never before had I been quite so transported by a small, furry fruit. Particularly good when enjoyed with meringue and fresh whipped cream in a carefully constructed pavlova or mashed up in a gloriously messy fool (I pity the fool).

Raspberries7. Ice lollies
After considerable market research (asking my husband), I have concluded that these are some of the most nostalgic lollies for folk of my generation: the Ice Pop (more E Numbers than actual ingredients – but, my goodness, the world looks brighter when you’re riding that food-colouring high); the Mr Man lolly; the Sparkle; the Mivvi; the Mini Milk (is it just me, or have they got considerably smaller?); the Fab, the Feast, the Zoom! And the one shaped like a foot… (why on earth would anyone want to eat an ice cream shaped like a foot?)

6. Hot rice pudding (with jam)
I haven’t had this in years. I’m going to find some now. I bet they’ve got Ambrosia Creamed Rice in Lulu’s Hypermarket…

5. Umm Ali
Ooh – now, this is a clever one. For me, this is both culturally adventurous and curiously nostalgic at the same time. It’s a deliciously comforting sort of Arabic bread pudding, with layers of creamy pastry baked with pistachios and raisins. Umm Ali means Ali’s Mother, which is comforting in itself.

4. Butterscotch Angel Delight
Mix the powder with milk or, for a quick nostalgia fix, just inhale the sweet dust as you pour it out of the packet and into the mixing bowl. I’d draw the line at actually snorting it. Probably.

3. Rhubarb Crumble with fresh cream
Preferably consumed after indulging in a large roast dinner. There’s always room for a bit of homemade rhubarb crumble… Especially that bubbly, brown caramelized bit that’s stuck to the edge of the baking tin…

2. Orange Jelly
I really do get very excited about jelly. If more people ate jelly, I think the world would be a happier place. It’s just so cheerful and shiny and wobbly! I love plunging into a pristine new jelly and prying up a huge spoonful so that it makes a joyous jelly-fart. I never actually eat jelly, I sort of hoover it off the spoon. Jelly is FUN. My mum used to make jelly with tinned mandarin oranges mixed in. I thought this was EXTRA FUN.

1. A Tin of Nestle Condensed Milk
Ah now. Not a pudding in itself, you might say – a valid ingredient in fudge or a Banoffee Pie, perhaps, but not actually a legitimate dessert… Surely? How wrong you are, my philistine friend. The ultimate in nostalgic nirvana, the Ferrari of sugar-rushes. All you need is a spoon…

Gingerbread House[With apologies to my non-British readership… I am aware that some of these brands are a bit bally British and I know that there are serious global disagreements about the meaning of jelly, jello and jam, but, as a reader of this website, I also trust in your intelligence to decipher / translate my greedy nonsense for yourself.]

Which delicious desserts would soothe the sting of homesickness for you? Please do leave a comment sharing your Pudding of Ultimate Nostalgia (acronym: PUN) …

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92 Comments

  1. Kaye

    Tinned peaches and evaporated milk!

  2. Treacle tart….but that header of a tin of Bird’s custard reminds me that it has to be on the shopping list for the next friend coming out here…the american style stuff on sale here is definitely not the same.

    • Oh yes, treacle tart – that could easily have been one of mine too, Helen. I love it warm with a blob of vanilla ice cream.

  3. Me

    Jam Roly Poly 🙂

    • A classic, Me. A classic.

      • Me

        Its been years since I had that myself. I think Ill indulge.

  4. Love all of these! So many tastes of home.

    On Mum’s recent visit she brought along Hartley’s Jelly (with the jelly moulds from my birthday parties,) Ambrosia custard, Marmite (yum,) and Henderson’s Relish (not a pudding but so very Sheffield.)

    • Mums are excellent, aren’t they. They are the ultimate homesickness cure. Am also a fan of Marmite and indeed Henderson’s Relish (I lived in Sheffield for about five years and often used to walk past the Henderson’s Relish factory!) 🙂

  5. Victoria

    Chocolate pudding and custard….the tinned puddings that I believe need to be boiled are best.

  6. PJ

    Tinned fruit salad = fighting over the one glace cherry. How rare must they be to put only one in per can?

    • Excellent! I loved those glace cherries, too. I was particularly fond of cream with my tinned fruit salad… I seem to have been fond of cream with just about everything come to think of it…

  7. Rick

    Doubled up laughing with this one Luce; snorting Angel Delight…………wonderful image……

  8. I’m with you on the raspberries and the rhubarb crumble. Never could stand rice pudding or jelly/jello, though. And I LOVED Bird’s Custard – that was definitely a huge favourite as a child.

    • Hi Storeylines, lovely to ‘see’ you! Custard is indeed wonderful stuff. It’s Shrove Tuesday today – I wonder what custard pancakes would be like…

      • Ooo, I’d try custard ON pancakes, at least! Yummy idea. Good to “see” you, too. 🙂

  9. Lemon meringue pie, Victoria sponge, and half a packet of custard creams. But probably not all in one sitting.

  10. From my days in Milan, definitely home made rice pudding that an American boyfriend taught me to make and on which I lived on for months. From my Italian childhood: Nutella straight out of the jar!

  11. Too much sweet stuff there for me! Although my mum also made jelly with mandarin oranges. We sold tins of Del Monte fruit at one point so I was well spoiled in that respect.

  12. Just discovered your blog after visiting Pecora Nera’s pad, and I’m glad I did too 😀
    My all time favourite comfort food is rhubarb crumble and custard, with the crunchy bits on the dish for “after-afters”. However, my knees have already buckled at the sight of Heinz golden syrup pudding on a local “exotic produce” supermarket shelf (work out how British produce is exotic…). Anyway… I’m off for a mosey around your blog now 🙂

    • Welcome, MM – so glad you found me! – I really like the look of your blog too. Am looking forward to having a look around it this afternoon with a cup of tea and a French macaron!

  13. I grew up in Kansas, so you’ll have to bear with me (I mostly deciphered this post, so I’m proud of myself). My favorite sweet that really brings back memories isn’t even something I ever ate. It was the ubiquitous dish of Jell-o with shredded carrots in it. Never appealed to me, but it was ALWAYS at family gatherings. Any time I see it, it makes me incredibly homesick.

    • Welcome to H&H – WOW, I have never even heard of such a dessert… What flavour is the Jell-o? Orange? This is insanity. Thank you for your contribution 🙂 I shall now have to Google shredded carrot jelly…

      • Hi, H&H! Another US reader here, this time from Illinois. My aunt used to make 15-layer torte cakes, but stopped when she realized that all the family really wanted to eat was the much simpler orange jello with shredded carrots.
        Wonderful top ten list!

      • Thanks HappyZinny and welcome to H&H! Is it literally just orange jelly with shredded carrots in it? Do I need to do anything to the carrot first? Is it raw? I am going to attempt to make this next weekend… 🙂

      • Yep, shred a couple of carrots and add them to the orange jelly/jello before refrigerating. My dad likes to put a little dollop of a mayonaise/milk mixture on top before serving, so you can try that as well!

      • Mayonnaise?! This is extraordinary… 😉

      • Ha! I have two words for you- spotted and dick. What the heck is that, anyway?😜

      • Hahaha – touche! It’s a sort of sponge pudding with currants. Often served with custard. It’s much nicer than it sounds 😀

      • I have seen cans of it at my local store. I’ll be brave and try some!

      • Let me know how that goes…! (I bet you’ll love it) 🙂

      • I will, and I hope you enjoy the orange and carrot jelly. We don’t even have a proper name for it, but in the spirit of Spotted Dick, perhaps we can call it Wobbly Rhonda…?

      • Wobbly Rhonda it is!!

  14. My mum used to make a mean Apple Charlotte. We had an apple tree at the end of our garden so we had quite a good supply of apples when I was younger 🙂

    • Oh how lovely 🙂 We used to have an apple tree too, and a plum tree. There’s nothing like cooking with the produce of your own garden – I really miss that. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Wow, I had forgotten all about Apple Charlotte! My mum used to make it for us and we’d fight over who got to lick clean the dishing out ladle 😀

  15. Hi H&H, I’m over from MM’s blog and couldn’t resist adding my two penn’ orth. I’m a great one for comfort food living here in France. I can get orange jelly but they don’t sell tinned mandarin oranges anywhere. I don’t understand that at all because they are such a staple of orange jelly, but there you go, that’s French inconsistency for you!

    I can get UK tele though and indulge my nostalgia for Poirot and Miss Marple as often as possible.

    • Hello Sarah, and welcome to H&H! Your love of orange jelly and Agatha Christie qualifies you for membership of the very exclusive Homesick and Heatstruck club – congratulations! (That makes two of us now… I shall have to manufacture membership badges or something.) 🙂

      • YIPPEE! 🙂

  16. Reblogged this on The Worlds top 10 of Anything and Everything!!! and commented:
    Today is Sunday which means it is guest post day! Today’s post is from ‘Lucy’ and I hope you enjoy it and show it as much love as you do my own top 10′s. If you are interested in doing the same please drop me an E-Mail: turtle4578588@gmail.com

    Take it away Lucy…

  17. You made me laugh. We moved to the US in 1995 and the only real hankerings I have now are Fish and Chips, which I can get. I have to make mince pies for my husband, and buy Birds Custard Powder. We found a way to get Coronation Street ‘live’ which helps. I still be Taylors of Harrogate English Breakfast Tea, but other than that, I have adapted….good job after all of these years. Oh and I do still make Yorkshire Puddings and Scotch Eggs.

    • Hi Sandra and welcome to H&H! Yes, being able to watch UK television is a big help – I’ve just been watching Call the Midwife on the iPlayer! Do US fish and chips taste like proper fish and chips? When we buy them over here they never taste quite right…

      • There are one or two good places, believe it or not, one of them is a biker bar and we also have a chippe called GB Fish and Chips.. Where do you live?

      • I’m in Dubai! A few bars and restaurants do fish and chips here and there are a couple of fish and chip shops but… they just don’t taste very convincing!

      • Something to look forward to when you go back to England.

  18. What a lovely blog post. Life’s not worth living without Bird’s custard powder. Also marvellous to see you praising Umm Ali, an overlooked pudding which is utterly delicious. Speaking of custard, how do you feel about Sherry Trifle? do you miss it?

    • Hullo Daniel – and thank you for popping in 🙂 Yes – I am indeed fond of sherry trifle, though I tend to focus mainly on the jelly and cream aspects… And the sherry of course. I love a drop of Harvey’s Bristol Cream of a winter evening!

  19. I try not to get nostalgic for the old Country but seeing that Bird’s Custard picture stopped me dead in my tracks…this will pass… nothing that a good cup of P.G tips and an episode of Dr. Who won’t cure! thanks for posting.

    • Hi Wayne – welcome and thank you for stopping by. I totally agree – a nice cup of tea and a vintage Who can work wonders! Really like your Cave of Fame blog by the way 🙂

      • Thanks…the kettle is always on down in the cave!

  20. I’ve just started reading your blog and absolutely love it! I’m also a Brit abroad living in Dubai and am always feeling nostalgic about food/tv/desserts etc that I miss from the UK. I’ve been craving jelly for days now, think I might just go out and buy some! Keep up the great work 🙂

    • Thank you Surena and welcome to H&H! Go on – indulge that jelly craving…

      • Thank you! I may just have to!

  21. Haha I loved the bit about the Bear experts at the start. Have not had Treacle Sponge in years! To be honest when I moved away from home it was for university so I did a lot of drinking instead of eating but I can see perfectly what your getting at. After a tough day I think these snacks would be very inviting as well!

    Liked this post, any chance you could maybe come and check out my blog when you get a chance? Many thanks.

    • Hi Anthony – thanks for dropping in and glad you liked the post 🙂 Just enjoyed a good mooch around your blog – keep up the great work!

  22. My favourite tinned fruit childhood nostalgia pudding is tinned pears, chocolate sauce (hot) and ice cream for a delicious and easy hot-cold combo pudding.

    Nicknamed ‘Poires aux chocolat’ (in a faux-franch-1970’s-cuisine-joke sort of way) it inevitably mutated into Poirot Chocolate…

    • This makes me SO happy. I don’t think life gets any better than Poirot chocolate! 😀

  23. Creamola, remember that?!

    • No?! I have never heard of Creamola… I shall Google it now… WOW that stuff looks great! Do they still make it?

      • I’m not sure, it was very yellow and kind of gritty but quite yummy, so much better than school semolina or tapioca ….

  24. Butterscotch Angel Delight! The best. Have you tried it with Mars Bar chopped up into it? Lovely. 🙂

    • OOoooh – no – NOT YET! Thanks for the idea, Elaine! I used to make Chocolate and Butterscotch Angel Delight mixes and then layer them alternately in dessert glasses so it was all stripy. It not only tastes amazing but is also very pretty to look at…

  25. Great post! I’m still in the UK but I haven’t eaten most of the above foods in years so there goes my shopping budget next time I go to the shops! We used to love Baked Alaska, and it always seemed somehow magical that the topping would be hot but that the ice cream inside wouldn’t have melted. Also, Bird’s Ice Magic was great with ice cream. One minute it’s a liquid, the next it’s a solid! We were wowed every time 😀

    • Thanks, Jenny and welcome to H&H! I remember being FASCINATED by Ice Magic. And I used to love the top of the bottle that was shaped like a splodge of sauce. It was truly a miraculous dessert topping 😀

      • Thank you for the welcome! Ice Magic was the height of luxury pudding-wise in our house. When we were really good, we’d get the mint one lol 😀

      • You lucky devils! It was a rare treat indeed 😀 Such simple pleasures!

  26. Sticky toffee pudding. That is all.

  27. Omg you have this diabetic drooling…..Treacle sponge mmmm, Butterscotch instant whip (especially with evaporated milk added) yummy……oh and Rhubarb crumble my favourite ….but condensed milk takes me back to my school days, What I would give for a tin of condensed milk a can opener and a spoon …..what else can a girl need 🙂

    • Hello Ladyinredagain! Thank you for joining me on my sugar-fuelled ferry to Nostalgia-land 🙂

  28. Reblogged this on Mr Mountweazel and commented:
    Even though she advocates tinned rice pudding and never mentions home made… I concur heartily with much of the sentiment and content here!

  29. Just seen that you grew up in Kent too, one of the best things about growing up in Kent in the 70s was gypsy tart for pudding….apparently it was only schools in Kent that had it

    • OH YES!!! There’s nothing like a warm Gypsy Tart. I haven’t had one for years! That’s going on the list for my next trip home 🙂

  30. So many joyous puddings there and butterscotch Angel delight magnificent( although I was more of an Instant whip girl). Growing up in the Highlands of Scotland pre internet days, making butterscotch Angel delight could be the highlight of my weekend ! Rice pudding yes ( but never with jam- IMO or raisins – perish the thought ) add to this milky list – rice Cremola & tapioca. And Fab ice lollies. Delicious

    • Hello! Delighted to meet a fellow Delight fan 🙂 Just checked out your page – some lovely photos there! 🙂

      • Thank you 🙂

  31. I love this! I do the youtube nostalgia thing-and I’m still in Britain! Browsing 80’s adverts, and TV themes. That is, as you say, what the internet is for!
    I was in a state of anticipation whilst reading about the ice lollys for Funny Feet, and you did not disappoint me 🙂 This is the first blog I’ve ever commented on-you have a new fan 🙂
    Mini Milks have got smaller, or maybe it’s because I’m bigger, either way, you know your puddings 😉

    • Hi Heidi – welcome to H&H! Your comments are hugely appreciated and I’m delighted you enjoyed the post. Do pop back again soon 🙂

  32. infinityplayerpress

    Oh God do i miss these lovely deserts that i used to eat all the time!!!!!! Especially rhubarb and custard and hot rice pudding. How i long to eat those things again!!!! I can’t get them in Louisiana. 😦

  33. spotted dick and custard

    • Another vote for this school dinner classic that Americans seem to find so amusing 🙂 Thank you!

  34. Rachel Jordan

    Obviously I’ve been reading through your blog! 😉 even the old posts! I can relate to so much of what you say! Even the crying over a desert! I had some ice cream last year that tasted identical to a Solero and immediately was awash with tears!

    • 😀 Food can be pretty emotive!! I’ve found some amazing organic raspberries in our supermarket recently and I’m addicted to them because they remind me so much of English summers! Soleros are ACE! x

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Lucy Strange

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