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In Praise of our 'Vital Supplies'



Friday, May 18, 2007.



By Franka Philip



Biscuits are a staple of every culture, it’s said they are among the earliest foods cooked by man, more than 10,000 years ago. Back then they were simple mixtures or grain and water that were baked on hot stones.

This explanation for how biscuits became such a common part of our lives comes from the book Cookies and Crackers. “The development of cookies and crackers from these primitive beginnings is a history of refinements inspired by two different impulses - one plain and practical, the other luxurious and pleasure-loving.


Savoury crackers represent the practical and may well have been the first convenience foods: A flour paste, cooked once, then cooked again to dry it thoroughly, becomes a hard, portable victual with an extraordinarily long storage life - perfect for travelling. For centuries, no ship left port without enough bone-hard, twice-cooked ship’s biscuit - the word biscuit comes from the Old French biscoit, meaning twice cooked - to last for months, or even years.”

I always pick up Jacob’s Cream Crackers at the supermarket. In fact, I’m having a few with cheese as I write this; they’re just so convenient when I’m feeling peckish. But it’s a pity that I can’t have my favourite biscuits, the ever-enduring Crix biscuit from Trinidad and Tobago

All Trinis have a story about Crix because it’s one of the first things we eat as children. I’ve eaten Crix with practically everything; cheese, honey, condensed milk, soup, stew, buljol, curry, salad and I can go on and on. It’s because of this versatility that Crix are affectionately known as ‘Vital Supplies’.

Bermudez Biscuits, the company that’s manufactured Crix since the 1920s has always kept up with changing food trends, so in the late 1980s when people were becoming more health conscious they started making whole wheat Crix and more recently multigrain Crix.

A few weeks ago, somebody brought us shiny new packs of Crix minis from Trinidad
. These miniature crackers - clearly aimed at the snack and lunchkit market - come in flavours like cheese and spinach and pepper cheese. I didn’t taste the pepper cheese Crix but I quite liked the cheese and spinach flavour. I feel they can compete with most of the fancy biscuits on the market here.

I’m inspired to write about Crix today because I just joined a group for Crix lovers on the social networking site Facebook. There are almost 2,000 members of this group from all over the Trinidad Diaspora and the number keeps growing.

Some members of the group (who clearly have lots of time on their hands) debate issues like: "How many holes are there in a Crix’, ‘What is the weirdest thing U eat with Crix’ and ‘Cheese or Jam."

On the group’s Wall (a virtual bulletin board) you’ll find messages written in Trini dialect like: “Mmmmm Crix nice. Crix diet kicks ass! But de mini crix pepper cheese does taste boss and doh talk fuh de multigrain hmph!”

So far, the funniest comment has been this one: “Crix is not jus a dry cracker it is also a very Highly Safisticated Weapon use by the
Trinidad and Tobago Regiment. Here’s how its done: when a enemy camp is low on water or any form of liquid Trini Intel send to the camp over 60 boxes of Crix, with no knowledge of this deadly weapon the enemy then takes turns in competition to see who could eat five Crix in one minute (wit no water) the result - Death they then take it to the general and he dies. And no Country Wah Ramp wit we Thanks to Crix - D Vital Supply and D Vital Defence.”

Interesting, but I can’t see the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment using Crix as part of their arsenal anytime soon.


Photo: Kelvin Morrison



Franka Philip is a food expert and a journalist with the BBC in London. She blogs at www.cancookmustcook.com


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