09 April 2005

A Literary Treat

     "Mally...took down two sticks of dark gold paper.
     "Crunchie?" said Velvet, her face lighting...
     In the gold paper was a chocolate stick. Beneath the chocolate was a sort of honeycomb, crisp and friable, something between biscuit and burnt sugar. Fry's chocolate crunchie...It was their year's choice."
Enid Bagnold wrote this back in 1935, in National Velvet. I read it in the mid-1960s, in a brown-covered paperback with a drawing of blond Velvet and her piebald horse on the cover (a far cry from both Elizabeth Taylor in the movie and Lori Martin in the television series). The Brown girls' life next to the slaughterhouse was so different from mine that I was instantly fascinated, and I loved the differences in language and vocabulary. No effort was made to "Americanize" the descriptions or dialog, which I always appreciated. What then was "kedgeree" and "spawn" and what were "capers"? I was fascinated by their life by the sea and Mrs. Brown having swum the English Channel, by the racing information and the descriptions of the Grand National, and, especially since I had had budgies since I was a small child, Meredith and her canaries. (Those Grand National jumps have stuck in my head for years. When I go over speed bumps I think to myself, "Well, here's Becher's, and next is the Canal Turn...")

This description of the candy bar stayed with me for years, too. It sounded delicious. So when James and I went into the little Norcross shop "A Taste of Britain" today—this is a lovely store that stocks china teacups and little cottages, some British CDs, little things like statuettes and bumper stickers, and British foods (even some frozen ones like bangers and meat pasties).—and looked over their stock of British candies, my eyes alighted with recognition on a gold papered stick labeled "Crunchie" (although it is now made by Cadbury). I had to try it, even if the import prices are a bit high.

James took a bit and pronounced it too sweet. It was a bit sweet; it would probably cure a sugar craving for about a week. But I enjoyed the heck out of it anyway. It tasted just as wonderful as it did back when I "sampled" it virtually 40 years ago reading National Velvet.

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