Muffins de naranja / Orange muffins asked me what's the weirdest food I've ever eaten.

I'm not into the "I'll taste anything once" spirit – some things just aren't meant to be put in your mouth

[stop it]

So, I'll go with a muffin from an old-school seaside tea-shop in Ramsgate many moons ago, when my parents and I were visiting the area prior to my moving there.

I ate half of it, along with a cup of sweet tea. The muffin was tasty, though I couldn't quite work out what the special flavour was. It was only when I'd eaten the front half that I turned it around and found it was completely mouldy; green and furry. I looked and, sure enough, the glass cabinet where the muffins were kept was just inside the window and sweating in the amplified sunlight. I'm sure mould was just one of many organisms fermenting in that case, so when the proprietor – an old, loud greek lady – offered a replacement, I politely declined.

The experience must have remained with me because a) I can still taste the mould; and b) I used the setting as color and context in my first published novel, 'Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies?' ( ):

"From here, the beach is still out of sight around the corner, past the small cafe owned by the Greek woman; I don’t know her name, she’s always just been the Greek woman. The cafe is called Joe’s which doesn’t help much. Anyway, whatever her name is, her sweet pastries and buns sometimes have mildew on where they’ve spent many a sweaty day in the plastic coffin of the display case. Her coffee’s always too sweet and milky, made by one of those machines that have been around since iron-age man first discovered that metal could be of use.

It’s a joy to sit in the cafe. Despite the mildew buns and sickly coffee.

The beach is around the corner from this, fronted by amusement arcades and run-down bingo hall. There are bars down there that are nothing more than empty husks, burnt out and derelict. Kids break in, the empty bars the last adventure left in this dying town."

So for the second cathartic time, I try to expunge the memory of the mildew bun – would that it would be gone for good!

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