Lesson Eighteen: Desserts of Olde.
I had a wealth of things to bring to Grandma’s this week:
1. A jar of Dukkah.
2. A tin of Salmon.
3. Ms. Vesty.
The first is a gift from my weekend trip to Margaret River (Grandma has raved about her love of this new Dukkah phenomenon she has come across…), the second is proof of my discovery that YES supermarkets still sell tinned Salmon, contrary to Grandma’s beliefs, and the third, for obvious reasons, was to gloat. Because I have followed a series of steps in the pattern for Ms. Vesty, unassisted. Thank you, thank you.
Of course, when running out of my place in the early morning for work, I forgot all three of these things. So today’s post will not centre around my three triumphs and vivid descriptions of tinned Salmon astonishment. Alas.
But our time did not go to waste. Earlier in the week I had told Grandma that I had tried to make Bread and Butter Pudding for the second time in my life, and, like the first attempt, failed miserably. This is a dessert I find quite tasty when ordering out, but no matter how I try to make it, my version always ends up tasting like glorified scrambled egg. And the real tragedy is that I’m always incredibly optimistic and choose to make it when I have guests over for dinner. So not only do I have to face my own crippling failure… I also have to watch someone agonisingly telling me that “It’s not that bad”, as they devour spoon after spoon of eggy mush, and I beg them to stop.
Being a very old-fashioned dessert, I of course assumed Grandma would be an expert on the manner, and I had asked her for advice. But the unexpected response was a huffed,
“My children NEVER got Bread and Butter Pudding for dessert.”
Evidently having touched a nerve, I asked Grandma, what was her biff with B&B Pudd? Apparently my Nanna (Grandma’s Mum) had cooked this to death in Grandma’s childhood. Grandma had had to force down spoonfuls of it before she could leave the table, and as a consequence, my Dad and his brother and sister never experienced the delights of B&B Pudd.
But as I entered the house this week I was overcome with a wonderful fragrance… And low and behold; the first time my Grandma has EVER cooked Bread and Butter Pudding.
I’m not going to lie; I got a little emotional to see it. The fact that Grandma had put aside her B&B Pudd differences to bake this for me and share her wisdom? I’m just going to go ahead and be as mushy as a B & B Pudd…
I adore this woman.
Mushiness aside… I was a little intrigued by the baking dish full of water. This is a little trick we can try at home next time we’re making Pudd, kids. And she had used fruit toast which is perhaps a little genius. It ended up being a little undercooked (Hey! Grandma’s words…), and though it was still delicious, the fact that even Grandma struggles to make a firm Pudd, made me feel a little better about my successive failures.
Another dessert Grandma mentioned that she had been forced to eat and, again as a consequence, never cooked for her children EVER; was something she called Chokos. No, it’s not some chocolatey treat, or another version of Allens’ awkwardly racist lollies… it’s pronounced “Choke-oh” and it is a half-vegetable, half-fruit, strangely-resembling-pear-like creature that grows on a vine. What?!
Fortunately I joined the world of smart phones this week (hoorah for my demise!) and was able to search for a picture, because this was just not adding up in my head. So here we go:
Pear apparently has a very ugly cousin.
Now of course I am hesitant to express my bewhilderment over Chokos on this very public medium, in the event that I may be the only person alive who was unaware of them. I do, clearly, come from a family lineage whereby all Choko access was cut off at the knees and ended where my Dad began… And my Mum’s parents were Dutch so I’m sure they were far too wrapped up in boiled eggs and porridge to ask questions about this mysteriously popular vegetable-fruit hybrid that presumably soared to fame in the 1940’s…
So I’ll put it out there, people of internet-land: What is your experience of the Choko? Any favourite Choko recipes to share? Is it possible to make a Choko taste good? Have you ever dressed as a Choko, perhaps for a party or gathering?
I asked Grandma,
“Was it sweet?”
“What did it taste like?”
“How did she cook it?”
“Boiled, on the cook-top.”
“Did she serve it with anything?”
Repeated incidences of boiled Chokos and mushy Pudd begs the question; if Nanna clearly had no love of making desserts, why didn’t she just not serve any? Or why would children be forced to eat dessert, when my knowledge of dessert is that it is always a rare entity that must begged and pleaded out of parents, and is the single and sole reason any of us ever ate our greens, in vain hope that there would be a delicious prize at the end…?
Grandma told me that in her day, there was no question of serving dessert, it just always was. It was part of the meal and you had to eat it, gruelling or no. I suppose the avoidance of brute force was the prize at the end? Awesome.
Back to the knitting… what else is on the knitting couch this week? These guys!
Oooh I wonder what this is going to be?? First person to guess will win my undying love for a period of 12 days (negotiable).
Have a wonderful week x