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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Biscuits - Garibaldi

Originally posted on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas DECEMBER. 07, 2020

[124-365] 7th. December 2020- That was the name of our PE teacher, well our name for him, because he was follically challenged, Gary Baldy. Kids are cruel.

It's also the name for a British biscuit, that I was surprised was still easily available, because I haven't seen one for years. This post is all about names.

Our name for this biscuit when we were kids was the squashed fly biscuit, which you can appreciate both from the look and the texture when you bite into one. Their defining characteristic is the layer of squashed fruit which gives rise to the other colloquial names fly sandwiches, flies' graveyards, dead fly biscuits. It's a testament to this comestible that with that sort of reputation it has survived as long as it has.

You will notice a very unusual, nay, unique selling point about this biscuit. It comes Flat Pack and unlike IKEA products that come Flat Pack, instead of having to assemble this one into a finished article, like a bookcase, in this case you have to disassemble it into it's finished article, several single biscuits. You break it into biscuit sized pieces predetermined by the perforated lines.

It is reverse IKEA, a sort of AEKI if you like, in a parallel inverse back to front universe where your Billy Bookcase would come as a piece of furniture and you would have to take it apart instead, and fit it inside a small box after you get it home, driving backwards all the way while whistling "More Day One" from "Miserable Les" the musical, because who would need an actual bookcase in an inverse back to front universe? Far more useful to have a small heavy box of tightly packed Medium Density Fibreboard. Which was the remit for the designer of the Garibaldi by all accounts.

Dead flies apart, this is a serious biscuit with a serious name, I mean how many biscuits are there named after army generals who struggled to unify a whole country. Giuseppe Maria Garibaldi (Maria only to close friends on Saturday nights), was an Italian general, patriot and republican. He contributed to the Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. He is considered to be one of the greatest generals of modern times and one of Italy's "fathers of the fatherland". There were no flies on Garibaldi.

Although we know the biscuit was named after him I cannot find out why. The biscuit is 150 years old, no not the one in the photo, although being so dry they might well last that long, I mean the fruit are dried before they even get near the dough and the dough is dry even when it is wet, but he did famously visit Tyneside in Britain for some bizarre reason where he refused an invitation to dine with dignitaries in the city.

Seems like he could have stayed home and done that just as easily if you ask me. They didn't even have high speed trains then so it must have taken ages for him to get there and then he refused to eat. Maybe room service felt sorry for him when they heard and sneaked him up a biscuit without a name, a biscuit without a marketing department, something they found at the back of a cupboard, something really dry that looked like flies had died in it and when they saw how much he enjoyed them they thought, "These biscuits shall be nameless no more, from now on they will be called Garibaldi". They opened a marketing department and the rest as they say is history.

In Australia they call them "Full O'Fruit" , and in New Zealand they are called "Fruitli Golden Fruit". This is shocking news and frankly makes me despair that a serious biscuit like this could be so disparaged, but we are talking the nether regions of former empire here. Both of these countries should be thoroughly ashamed and this as far as I am concerned is reason enough to expunge them from the UN.

How anyone could take Jacinda Ardern seriously (did anyone take her seriously?) after discovering they sell something edible called "Fruitli Golden Fruit" on her watch and in her country, I cannot fathom. I mean "Fruitli Golden Fruit"? Fruitli isn't even a word. At least Full O'Fruit is accurate, they are full o'fruit, albeit dried o'fruit that looks like dead o'flies.

After leaving Britain, Garibaldi went to Genoa which is mainly famous for having a cake named after it, a British cake. Maybe the sugar rush from his recently named namesake biscuit got him in the mood for cake and he mistakenly thought Genoa cakes were actually found in Genoa.

His ship is gently wending it's way past Marseilles and he's planning a lunch stop ahead and he sees Genoa on the map and thinks, cake. In a badly miscalculated manoeuvre for a general, he left Britain where he could have actually found a Genoa cake to land in Genoa where there were none. How he managed to win all those wars I don't know, presumably he had good staff.

Why do they come in strips of five? This all started about fifty three years ago when Sandra in packing was having a very off day. She turned up for work and the thought of breaking up another thirteen million Garibaldis by lunchtime sent her over the edge. She decided to break them into small planks of five biscuits instead, while she did meditation routines in her head, which by pure accident, it was later discovered, meant that they travelled better with fewer breakages and fewer of the dead flies were damaged in transit.

Sandra was later awarded the Nobel Biscuit Piece Prize. Sandra's star shone briefly in the firmament of the biscuit world until, unfortunately, the Brotherhood of Broken Biscuit Retailers took out a contract on her, it was a tragic end, as poor Sandra's remains were discovered in the Garibaldi dough tank where the active yeast had sucked all the life out of her.

I rather like this shot below, it looks a little like the cushions on a Barcelona Chair by Mies Van de Rohe. It would be fun to have a replica giant Garibaldi Barcelona Chair. You could stuff the cushions with black raisin type sponges visible through the little holes in the tan leather.

And here is an upside down Garibaldi with a dimpled bottom. Aaaawwwwhhhh! So cute, but still so dry. Hang on! Did Garibaldi have dimples on his bottom? More research needed I think.

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