Friday, 6 November 2009

Bonfire night biscuits

Bonfire night in Lewes is bigger than Christmas. Like several gazillion times bigger. My fabby Rough Guide to the World (subtitle: make the most of your time on Earth - how very galvanising) has it down as one of the 1000 ultimate travel experiences, and calls it 'one of the eccentric English's most irresponsible, unruly and downright dangerous festivals'. Yesterday, 50, 000 people were expected to fill the streets of a town which is usually home to just 16, 000 souls.

I am fantastically fortunate in that the bonfire societies, carrying flaming torches, throwing bangers and running with burning barrels, go right past my sitting room windows (fortunate, that is, in the loose sense of having hundreds of over-excited pyromaniacs let loose with as many explosives and inflammable substances as they can carry in the immediate vicinity of my home).

So last night I fired up the mulling pan and announced an open house. My mum, who has been staying over the festivities, invented these biscuits, which were so delicious that they literally prompted offers of marriage from friends male and female alike. So I thought I would give you the recipe as a special bonfire weekend treat:

Honeycomb-topped ginger biscuits:

4 oz butter or margarine
2 oz sugar
5 oz self-raising flour
2 tsp golden syrup
2 tsp ground ginger
A few pieces of cinder toffee (the honeycomb stuff in the middle of Crunchie bars. We got ours from Julian Graves).

Cream together the butter and sugar and slowly mix in the other ingredients. Put in the fridge for 10 minutes, then form into walnut sized balls and place on a greased baking sheet, pressing them down gently with the prongs of a fork to create ridges. Bake in a moderate oven until golden brown (approx. 5-10 mins). Place on a wire rack to cool.

Crush cinder toffee and sprinkle over the top.

Sit back and wait for the proposals to roll in.

The only part of the Lewes bonfire celebrations I can't say I care for is the residual yet pervasive anti-Catholic sloganising. What with the Cockatrice household being so ecumenical, multicultural and politically correct and all. Here is a taster of what I mean: this banner, proclaiming 'No Popery', is put up just outside my house (in fact you can *just* see a tiny corner of my window at the very bottom of the photo).

So, in the spirit of tolerance, woolly liberals and hearts and flowers all round, I propose a teensy revision of the slogan. The elegance of my plan (which revealed itself to me in a flash of inspiration) is that it encapsulates a credo of contemporary design every bit as catchy as 'chuck out your chintz', while leaving the original phonetics nigh-on untouched...

So come on internet, let this be our mantra as we strive to make the world a less prejudiced, more stylish place. Say it loud, and say it proud: 'no potpourri'.

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