Fings Ain’t What They Used To BeSeptember 30, 2009
In what turned out to be a fabulous sunny Sunday morning in a weekend of beautiful weather, I watched the Hackney Carnival with the Ever-Gorgeous Dez. Once the fag end of the parade had turned right at the end of Amhurst Road to make its way to Hackney Downs, Dez had a sudden pang of hunger and really fancied chips. The mention of chips had me salivating as I hadn’t had them for at least a year. So, carried on the crest of this wave we went searching for the perfect chips.
It was a frustrating search as there was hardly a chip shop to be found and Hackney’s immunity to 7 day opening meant that the few we found were shut. We decided to give it one more go at the parade of shops at Clapton Pond and if none were found we would give up. We were rewarded for our tenacity as we found an open shop, but that wasn’t the only reason for our joy. Real chip shops are as rare as hen’s teeth in East London these days as kebab shops have taken over and although they sell chips, they’re not the good earthy thick soggy chips of my childhood. They’re thin crispy French fries and not very tasty. Although this shop had the usual kebab/chicken façade, it had the proper chips. Praise Be! We got our chips and smothered them in salt, vinegar and in Dez’s case, mayonnaise. I very nearly went for the onion vinegar as well to boost the nostalgia kick and get the kind of hit to my nostrils that comes with a shot of Wasabi these days, but the soaking of the bottom of the chip paper with the original vinegar was heavenly enough.
As we sat near the pond and ravaged our feast, I found myself craving some old school fizzy pop to go with it. My favourite drinks were Cherryade, Cream soda and Blackcurrant Cresta (it’s frothy, man). I haven’t had fizzy drinks for years now, as most of it is rank and they’re full of sweeteners. Don’t get me started now about the so-called diet and no sugar drinks. If you’re going to have a Coke, have full fat Coke, not some mealy mouth substitute allowing you to lie to yourself about being healthier, but leaving you as fat as you ever were with the added bonus of Cancer producing sweeteners in your system. Ditto no sugar drinks. No sugar to me means it’s not sweet. At all. They can get away with saying no sugar because technically that’s correct, but it’s still bollocks. Anyway, as I was saying, I had my fizzy drink craving and it had to be sated. Now. We crossed back over to the parade and went into a general store to see if they still sold my favourite drinks. Well, Cresta bit the dust years ago but they did have Cherryade and Cream Soda. I was a little hesitant ‘cos I didn’t want to find the drinks to be not as good as I remembered. Now I know I should take into account the change in taste buds as we age and the tricks our memories can play on us to make us think that something tasted/looked/smelt better than it actually did. I still bemoan the shrinking of Wagon Wheels and Curly Wurlys to stingy small size, when in fact my hands are obviously much bigger now as an adult than when I was a pup holding these little pieces of magic for the first time. Lucozade tasted marginally better than Andrews Liver Salts, yet it evokes a warm feeling that comes from being sick in bed as a child and being fed this orange fizzy liquid in a glass bottle, wrapped in an orange film that entertained us for at least half an hour before we fell asleep. All those happy memories could’ve been wiped out in a moment if I chose the wrong drink. It was a close run thing, but in the end the sweeteners in the Cherryade made my decision for me and I bought the Cream Soda.
Cream Soda as I remember it had a Vanilla Ice Cream taste to it with a soft froth in the mouth, which was unusual in the fizzy drink world. Only Cresta came close and that didn’t last the distance. The one I bought from that shop had a sharp acid fizz like any other drink and the taste was generally fruity with not a whiff of Vanilla. Thankfully, the taste of the disappointing Cream Soda soon went as we wandered into Hackney Downs and took in the atmosphere of the event, which was fabulous. It was slightly marred for a few moments as some of the youth took it on themselves to bring their ‘beef’ to the festival. Fortunately, the Police were right on top of it so it didn’t have a chance to bed down and ruin the day for the rest of us.
I’m feeling a quest for the perfect Cream Soda coming on.