I remember exactly where I was when I was given my first yummy chocolate Tim Tam biscuit.
It was one of those pivotal moments in life.
Some people can remember exactly where they were when JFK was assassinated or Prince Charles married Lady Diana.
Not me though. The only thing I remember that is really, really, really important is eating my first Tim Tam.
It was circa 1966. I do not remember exactly when – I was only seven or eight – but it is very clear in my memory.
I was at a school friend’s house in Newnham, near to the dirt road where I learnt to ride my bike.
My friend’s mother gave us each a Tim Tam biscuit for afternoon tea and it was exquisite. We probably had something to drink, too, lemonade perhaps, but it was the Tim Tam that stood out.
I had never had a taste sensation like it.
We nearly always had biscuits in our house on Friday and weekends, but they were different.
My parents usually did the grocery shopping on Friday nights and that meant two things:
- fish and chips for dinner; and
- A box of Family Assortment biscuits.
I suppose if you have no biscuits in your life at all, the Family Assortment box was not bad.
But next to Tim Tams, they were, well, bland.
The most exotic biscuit in the Family Assortment box were Tic Tocs, which had hard icing on one side and an edible biscuit clock on the other side. I guess they helped me learn to tell the time as much as they contributed to my cholesterol levels.
There might have been one or two types of cream biscuits in the box, too. Monte Carlo springs to mind.
But the rest were garden-variety plain one-dimensional biscuits whose flavour neither suffered nor improved when dunked them in your cup of tea.
In hindsight, I think it was absolutely amazing that the Family Assortment box was usually emptied by Sunday night.
But, then, there were six of us in the family and we never knew any better.
Well, not me anyway.
I never even knew something better existed until I was given the Tim Tam at my friend’s house, beginning more than a quarter of a century love affair with this chocolate delicacy.
It would be wrong to say I was deprived of sweet things though.
I remember my father taking me into town so he could lay a bet at the betting shop at the back of The Quadrant. Nearby was Gourley’s sweet shop and my father always bought a bag of red toffees that encased balls of coconut ice. My father, well known for his love of sugary things, always had the lion’s share but I always had something to go on with as I waited outside and watched as streams of people went in and out and other small boys waited outside too, eying my sweets off enviously.
About the same time, I remember buying a cream bun from the bakery near my primary school, Our Lady Help of Christians, for lunch every day. It is a wonder to me now that the school was not renamed Our Lady Help of Cream Buns, such were the quality of the fare that could be bought nearby.
They were very fresh, often warm, and filled with whipped cream with a large dob of strawberry jam.
And every summer weekend, I would join the throng of neighbourhood kids chasing the Mr Whippy ice-cream van jingle.
I rarely had to go far.
The van mostly used to stop near our house at Ronneby Road.
I guess the driver knew we were good customers.
My father liked his cones with strawberry topping and a stick of chocolate. Us kids usually had to settle for single cones but they were yummy nevertheless.
But I grew to like savoury things too.
When a fish’n’chip shop opened in a complex a bit further down the road from my school, I ditched the bakery and made my lunchtime pilgrimage down there instead.
I was at the head of the queue to regularly sample something new to the neighbourhood: the Chico Roll.
In fact, I became such a Chico Roll devotee it was many years before I would forsake it and have fish instead. Er, being a Catholic, it might have been different every grocery night.
Now, I much prefer to eat fish even on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and I have not had a Chico Roll for years. I do not miss it.
Different story with Tim Tams though.
These days they come in a range of flavours other than plain chocolate and I confess to having tried them all.
I know I am not supposed to eat them, given my weight and heart problems, but gee, sometimes I cannot help feeling nostalgic.
I often wonder how my life would have turned out if my friend’s mother had not given me a Tim Tam for afternoon tea all those years ago.
©August 8, 2003 John Martin. All Rights Reserved