Yesterday, not entirely by chance, the Man and I found ourselves in Canterbury.
As usually happens whenever we go exploring, our walk through the city consisted of visiting bakeries, tea rooms and sweet shops, in search of edibles new and exciting.
Within just a few minutes we found something special, nestled inside A.E. Barrow & Sons.
It was this: the Gypsy Tart.
Neither of us had seen one before, but we soon learned a few things about it:
- The filling is made from a mixture of Condensed Milk and Brown Sugar
- It’s a Kent speciality, well-known as a school dinner staple (probably coz it’s so cheap to make)
- The girl at the bakery counter can’t stand it (in a word, she thought it was ‘bleurgh’)
Of course, I bought one as soon as I could and, later, while shielding myself from the wind, I had me a tentative bite.
It was not what I’d expected.
From the outside, it looked so innocuous: beige Pastry; beige filling; not a single decoration or Chocolate Curl.
The flavour, however, was a veritable no-holds-barred explosion of sweetness: part-melted granules whisked into a mousseline frenzy with an unnatural amount of syrupy Condensed Milk.
The Brown Sugar gave it a strong molasses taste – not a hundred miles away from that of Liquorice – and the fact that the Pastry was sweet as well made things even more intense.
I could see why the girl at the bakery hadn’t been keen – it certainly had the air of a pud that would be an acquired taste (far too rich for most, I expect).
As to feeding it to schoolchildren? Might as well give them crack cocaine, for all the addictive powers of that Sugar…
That said, it wasn’t unpleasant. The texture was particularly nice: light and bubbly; quite a bit melty too.
It just wasn’t something you could (or should) buy often.
Once a month/year/decade would probably do it…
Good thing we don’t live in Kent.