Heinz Cream of Tomato soup. There is no other food quite like it, and I say this from four decades of experience of this veritable food of the gods.
No Saturday lunchtime of my childhood would be complete without opening a tin of that reddy-orange goodness, heating it in a pan, and gorging it down with about half a loaf of fresh bread. In fact, this habit grew into a source of conflict with my mother, who would buy fresh bread in the morning, and find it had all disappeared into my face-hole before she got back from work. In fact, I was urged to get "your own bloody bread", which I thought was fair enough and got me out of the house for long enough to work up an appetite.
I wasn't just a tomato soup fiend, though. When there was fresh bread in the house (and there's a theme developing here), I would sneak down to the larder and construct door-stop sandwiches which would be devoured on the spot. Rinse. Repeat.
On some days these would be tomato ketchup, but the greatest devastation would be caused with a bottle of salad cream. Salad cream sandwiches would be feasted upon until there was no more bread or salad cream, whichever was exhausted first. This habit couldn't last for long, and the day I dropped the bottle, causing an explosion of yellow goo and glass all over the kitchen was the day I was told to stop.
For this incident, I blame the sugar rush of necking neat, syrupy orange squash straight from a four-pint container until I was buzzing up on the ceiling.
But back to the soup. Heinz Cream of Tomato has attained an almost mythic status in my life, to the point that I've always got to have at least two tins on hand: One for now, one for emergencies. No other brand will do, because they are a BLASPHEMY and should be destroyed with fire, bombs and rabid weasels, as well as the shops that sell them.
And nobody tinkers with my Cream of Tomato. NOBODY. Somebody who I was once married to thought it a "nice idea" to get Heinz Tomato "with a hint of basil". A HINT OF TURDS MORE LIKE. I do not blame the ex – but I do look accusingly to the boffins at Heinz for even thinking about such an ABOMINATION.
That's nothing - NOTHING – compared to what happened to me one Saturday. My soup preparations were interrupted by the old man, who suggested that we turn my plain old tomato soup into "the best tomato soup ever". I begged to differ, for it was already the best tomato soup ever, but he brushed aside my protests and spent the next half an hour "improving" my lunch with added tomatoes, puree, salt, pepper, herbs and lord knows what else.
It was not the best tomato soup ever.
In fact, I would hazard to suggest that the old man didn't fancy it much either.
But ould I forgive him? Yes. Yes I did, because that's what you do with dads, soup-wreckers or not.