Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Fruit is not dessert

My mother has a lot of strong opinions.  Sometimes they are just small things like, 'Say fluff not fart,' or 'I hate bagels, they are too chewy!' and at other times she channels Sean Penn and his uncompromising stance on the non-exisitence of WMDs in Iraq.  She can stop dinner parties with her views on such things.

  "There were NO weapons of mass destruction!" She shouts somewhere between dessert and coffee.  And when we all stop what we are doing, she says it again with a different emphasis, "There WERE no weapons of mass destruction!"

It's hard to know where to go with it.  We are all in agreement on this fact. Agreeing passionately is somehow not as satisfying  as disagreeing passionately on something.  It's disappointing when people don't put up a fight.  It's not quite the same to just shout an identical point of view at each other across the dinner table.
As you get older, you realise that you have absorbed a lot of your parents' traits.  I myself, have absorbed my mother's sudden need to get something off my chest, no matter how off topic it may seem at the time.

The other day we were talking on the phone about what she might serve for dinner when we came over. My children are notoriously fussy and so various culinary strategies need to be put in place to ensure that the evening goes smoothly and no one spends the night whining like some wretched starving-to-death character out of a Dickens novel. ("I'm so huuuungry! What can I have to EAT?" as though we have presented them with only a bowl of gruel.)

Before she'd even got past what she would serve to my kids, I suddenly found this sentence bursting out of my mouth:
   "Fruit is NOT dessert!"
   "Alright." She said, sounding slightly wounded.  "There's no need to shout."
   "I mean it though!" I said, really building up a head of steam.  "FRUIT is not dessert!"
This is one of the strong views on which we do differ.  She thinks fruit is dessert.  I do not.  My sister sits on the fence: she thinks fruit CAN be dessert but she's also happy to accept that a cake or brulee is the better option.  My father and brother sit on my side of the fence.  In fact, my brother (a chef) has been known to produce elaborate desserts in mass restaurant quantities (two dozen eggs to make five brulees, he is programmed to only produce food in commercial volumes and cannot seem to change his settings) to combat the 'fruit as dessert' issue. As he now lives in Japan, I have been fighting the battle alone.

One time I was so harried to produce something before we left for dinner at Mum's that I forgot to add a particular ingredient. It was doubly unfortunate that I then spent the evening doing regular "coming soon" bulletins about my miniature Portuguese tarts.

  "Hmm..." said my sister, chewing thoughtfully when I finally served them to much applause and fanfare, "it's sort of like... a dessert quiche."

I realised immediately what I'd done.  In fact, I remembered precisely the moment when I had been about to measure out the sugar: a vicious disagreement had broken out in the lounge room over who had taken whose head off whose Lego man and not replaced it. It was a difficult argument to adjudicate as I had not witnessed the actual beheading with my own eyes.

  "Stop!" I stood up and spread my arms in a dramatic 'hold everything or someone will get hurt' gesture. "Don't eat the tarts!"
I ran around the table collecting up the offending items.
   "I forgot to put the sugar in!"
(It has to be said, my father was reluctant to surrender his and we engaged in a brief tussle as I assured him it would be disgusting and he demurred that he 'just wanted to try it.')

My mother got up from the table and said simply.

  "Well, I've got some fruit if anyone wants some."

1 comment:

  1. I love this post! Gotta love the family dynamic, sounds remarkably similar to my life!