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 Custard
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).
7. 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…
[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) …