There was once a commercial for Colman’s Mustard. A party of bright young things arrive on a beach in France for a picnic. The tablecloth is laid out on the sand and all is ready for a jolly time when Jarvis, the elderly butler, is forced to confess that he has neglected to pack the mustard. Aghast, a woman exclaims Oh – no moutarde? All agree that it would be impossible to eat a pork pie without mustard. Jarvis knows what he must do, gives a slight bow and, gravely, wades into the sea.
Damn long swim back to England! the woman exclaims.
I must say, I could do without mustard, even Colmans. I did have a tin once – a teaspoon of the stuff was required for my Margaret Patten cheese scone recipe. I had that tin for years. I believe it went rusty and left a tin-shaped orange mark on the shelf. After that I lined all my shelves with pages from the Radio Times so that things could go rusty in peace.
For some reason I always seem to have a large tub of bicarbonate of soda lurking at the back of my food cupboard. Never used it for cooking. Before there was self-raising flour, didn’t you put bicarb and cream of tartar in with plain flour, to make it ‘raise’? I think I might have bought it because some website recommended it for cleaning something and then didn’t clean the something with it.
I always have a stack of little boxes of Rice Crispies – the sort that there tend to be three of in every cereal multipack. I always mean to be a good girl and eat up my Rice Crispies even though they taste like cardboard with air in it, but always find myself selecting the chocolate flakes instead. Same with prune-flavoured Activia yoghurts, but I’ve written about those before.
I have two small glass jars of mixed dried herbs. Occasionally I might make an omelette, and occasionally I might whisk some dried herbs in it, but really I bought them because I liked the little jars. You don’t often see little jars, do you, with fancy labels and tiny gold tops? I imagined dolls-house dollies dipping into them with a tiny long spoon…
And what would be my luxury item – my equivalent of ‘moutarde’ – something worth making the butler swim back to England for? I think I might go for a bottle of vanilla essence. It’s one of my favourite smells but also it does something for milk. On a hot evening there is nothing like a long, green glass full of milk from the fridge, with a few drops of vanilla essence added to it.
Do you have a disintegrating store-cupboard ‘lurker’? And what would be your ‘moutarde’?