Food nostalgia (or, O the lost foods of yesteryear)

by Diane Duane

…I mean nostalgia in its original sense of something that causes you a slight yearning pain as you think about things past and lost.

No telling what brought on today’s attack of it. I was writing, and got the urge for something crunchy and sweet, but light. And suddenly the memory broke surface: brown-edge wafers.

How many years has it been since I last sat down to decimate a box of Nabisco Brown Edge Wafers? I used to love those things intensely. Indeed, there is a place in The Worm Ourobouros where Lords Juss and Brandoch Daha, and poor Mivarsh Faz (I still feel bad about the crocodile) drop in on Queen Sophonisba the Fosterling of the Gods at her place inside the mountain Koshtra Belorn, and the Queen has them served dinner —

“Behold, ambrosia which the Gods do eat and nectar which they drink: on which meat and wine myself do feed, by the bounty of the blessed Gods. And the savour thereof wearieth not, and the glow thereof and the perfume thereof dieth not forever.”

So they tasted of the ambrosia, that was white to look on and crisp to the tooth and sweet —

— and when I was fourteen, or whenever it was I read this book for the first time, something in my brain sort of chucked out the “white” part, but kept all the rest of the description, and immediately flashed on what they must have been eating: Nabisco Brown Edge Wafers!

(Sigh: even then, such a food geek. And Queen Sophonisba could probably have used some vegetables in her diet as well, but that’s not the issue. …Still chuckling over the new cover on The Worm: they’ve got Tolkien blurbing Eddison. This is delicious, considering that Eddison blurbed Tolkien first, back when Tolkien was the new unknown writer and Eddison was hot…)

Anyway, in the course of the nostalgia attack, I went online and found, to my grief, that they’re not made any more (see here for a rather depressing list of all-gone goodies. Jeez, if I’d known the box of Cheese Tid-Bits I ate in NY four or five years ago was the last one I was ever going to ingest…!  Why didn’t I buy a case when I had a chance! Argh. And as for the noble Oysterette, I’ve been mourning that loss for years already).

But no point crying over uncookie’d milk. So I made some Brown Edge Wafers.  (The picture will come later. Peter went out to do some research and took the camera with him: the phone’s camera is no good for this, and my Clie is up in the charger.)

…The recipe about halfway down this page works pretty well. However, I found I needed to beat a few tablespoons of milk into it to get the wafers to spread properly. Only after I was almost through baking did I find this page, which has a slightly different recipe that purports to be crisper. Must try that next time.

Notes for those of you who might try the first recipe:

(a) Sweet butter, not salt. UK users: Lurpak is best. Also: cake flour, not all-purpose or plain / “strong white”.

(b) Cream the sugar and butter really well.  Get obsessive about it…it pays off.

(c) Even if you’re using a nonstick cookie / biscuit sheet, you must grease or spray it. Otherwise the little monsters will adhere, doing demure little backflips when you try to spatula them off. Frustrating.

(d) Letting them sit on the sheet for a few minutes before transferring them to the rack seems to help.

(e) Watch the timing. Eight minutes was about right for these in our little fan oven.

…Sigh: back to work.

(And now that I’m thinking of it, what were those cream wafers that the Lady Prezmyra was eating in chapter VII?…)

You may also like