breakthrough in international recipe compatibility

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Nov 12, 1987, 1:28:15 AM11/12/87
As longtime readers of alt.gourmand or will remember, there
are certain regional ingredients that are simply not available in other
countries or continents. I have been frustrated for years by my
inability to find a North American substitute for the copha sold in
Southeast Asia and Australia, or for the Graham crackers that are so
universally used in North American baking.

Max Hauser of U.C. Berkeley has solved the Graham Cracker problem.
He suggested to me that a "Digestive Biscuit" from McVities of Middlesex is
a proper substitute for a Graham cracker, and that in general the
things that the British Empire countries call "digestive biscuits" are
pretty much the same thing. I arranged to get a few packages of
various brands of digestive biscuits (thank you, Harrod's Food Halls)
to test this delightful claim.

Lo and behold, Max Hauser is right, and the Graham cracker dilemma is
solved. Persons outside North America can use digestive biscuits
whenever a recipe calls for Graham crackers, and vice versa.

A nice side effect of having solved the Graham cracker problem is that
it also solves the "Israeli tea biscuit" problem. Recipe CHOC-CAKE-1
has always mystified me with its call for 500 grams of tea biscuits.
I tried making the recipe with several different things posing as "tea
biscuits" and none of them worked. Remembering that Israel was
once under British control, I guessed that an Israeli tea biscuit and a
Harrods digestive biscuit might be similar, and tried making a version
of CHOC-CAKE-1 with Graham crackers. Bingo. Not necessarily what Mike
Trachtman, the submitter of that recipe, had in mind, but much better
than anything else I've been able to find here.

So all of you out there who write "colour" instead of "color" can try
out the recipes calling for Graham crackers (BANANA-CAKE, CHEESECAKE-1,

Max pointed out that digestive biscuits have a slightly higher fat
content than Graham crackers, so when using them in a recipe that calls
for mixing them with butter or other fat, that you should use a bit
less fat than the recipe calls for, to compensate for the extra fat in
the biscuits. He also claimed, and I now concur, that digestive
biscuits taste better than Graham crackers. This is almost certainly
because of the extra fat, since we all know that calories are the
fundamental medium of flavoring.

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