When I am 40 and I ask myself why I am not as slim as I was at 20, I don’t want any platitudes about ageing and how it’s natural to change shape.
I want you to say “prawn crackers”.
I believe that the discovery that you can make your own prawn crackers will turn out to have been a turning point in my life.
I love prawn crackers you see. They used to be rare, coming with chinese takeaway, to be eaten once you are stuffed full of other food. They are so full of air they practically dissolve in the mouth, while stil being crunchy and savoury and mmmmmmmm. The fact that each of those little pockets of air comes with a thin coating of oil can be ignored.
But now, now prawn crackers are an every day occurrence. Well, not every every day (although I wouldn’t complain), but everyday as in common, not special, just-have-a-few-while-dinner-is-cooking. Because I can make them myself. They’ve always been available pre-cooked at exortionate prices from Sharwoods or Blue Dragon or similar, but those dry imitations just don’t have the same appeal as a fresh tasty prawn cracker that has recently been submerged in smoking-hot oil. Admittedly they don’t have quite the same effect on your kitchen walls either, but all pleasure comes at a cost.
I must admit that when I say I “make” prawn crackers, what I mean is that I go to the Chinese supermarket (I happen to live in the “most ethnically diverse area” of a really unethnically diverse city), buy strange solid translucent discs, and throw them into hot oil. A deep fat fryer would be great for this, and a friend recently held a let’s-fry-everything party to celebrate the purchase of a deep fat fryer, but all you really need is a wok or small saucepan with a couple of centimetres of oil, and song tongs to fish out the crackers as they puff and spin and expand. It is a thing of beauty, truly. The Crackers expanding, not the pan that I keep specially for making them. The pan is a mess! But the crackers expand and twist and spin and puff up and turn inside out like a flower blossoming or those girls who dance with ribbons. (OK, so neither of those turns inside out, but if they did it would still be beautiful)
So there, my ode to prawn crackers. They are tasty, quick to make, and they will (probably) make me fat.
For a healthier you-can-make-it-yourself snack try edamame (and if you want to know more about the pleasures and dangers of edamame click here). You can buy them frozen in-the-pod at the above-mentioned Chinese supermarkets, and they just need boiling and sprinkling with salt. They’re more expensive than prawn crackers, but they come with an aura of virtue that no greasy fried thing can ever achieve.