Dessert was not an option in my home as I was growing up. The only times that I recall eating some kind of treat after a meal was when we went to visit my grandmother who was known for her cooking far and wide. The meal itself always featured bowls filled with vegetables fresh from her garden and meats and fish sometimes caught that day. Grandma was more than ready to get out her fishing pole or run after a plump chicken to provide the entree for one of her delicious meals.
We’d stuff ourselves with corn, green beans, tomatoes, collard greens, okra, chicken, cornbread and biscuits all flavored with hand churned butter and accompanied with homemade jellies and pickles and condiments of all sorts. Every dinner time was a multi course feast but we knew to save room for dessert. While Grandma made many delicious things there was nothing to compare to her berry pies and strawberry shortcakes brimming with freshly whipped cream. In all of my life I have never tasted better versions of these delights anywhere, any time.
Whenever we went to the local cafeteria our mother gave us the option of having an entree and two vegetables or an entree, one vegetable and a dessert. We were children so it should not be too difficult to guess that we always opted for the dessert. I mostly liked pie but I never expected it to be as good as my grandmother’s. Nonetheless it was a huge treat to have something sweet once in a blue moon.
I’ve probably had more dessert during COVID 19 than in all of my other 72 years. I have indulged in cookies and ice cream and banana bread more than I should have. I need to go back to my more Spartan and healthy ways soon or I may have to invest in a whole new wardrobe a size larger than what I presently wear.
I usually reserve desserts for vacation time or nights out on the town. Since I am doing neither of those things at the moment I suppose that I have justified my new bad habit by claiming that I deserve something for the sacrifices I have made. Still, I find that dessert is one of those things I would be willing to forego in a heartbeat. It’s just not something that I unduly crave.
There are only a few dessert moments that I truly enjoy as much as those meals with my grandmother. One is indulging in beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. I actually feel happiness serotonin tracing through my veins when I am there. I generally want two of the puffy square donuts with a cup of coffee or sometimes a carton of milk. I love how they are hot out of the vat of oil and just a bit crispy on the edges with a dredging of confectioner’s sugar that invariably ends up all over my clothing. This is the nirvana of my comfort food.
Once a year I like to go to the Cheesecake Factory for a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. I usually visit around the time of my birthday in November an revel the the creamy goodness of this delight that is only served for a limited time between October and December. When I was young and slim and trim I ordered a whole cake to take home and enjoy for a week or so. Now just thinking about such a thing adds five pounds to my weight so I stick with the one slice and call it season until the next year. I even managed to get my slice during the height of the pandemic by ordering it to go and sitting outside in a large open courtyard that was all but devoid of people.
I’m also a fool for banana’s Foster at Brennan’s restaurant. I’ll take either the one in New Orleans or Houston. They are both exceptional. The very act of creating the dessert is fun and always brings a smile to my face and then the combination of the caramel taste of the sauce over the bananas and vanilla ice cream is to die for. Sadly I only get to Brennan’s once every many years. I think the last time was about three years ago and before that it may have been five years. I suppose that not indulging in this delight only makes it seem better when I have the opportunity.
On a trip to east Texas one year we discovered a little cafe and bakery in Gladewater that features pies made by a young lady who must surely be the reincarnation of my grandmother because her offerings come closer to the perfection of my grandmother’s than any I have ever found. I am particularly fond of her coconut cream pie which is sinfully good. When we enter the restaurant we order the pie before choosing our lunch. If we wait surely someone else will get the last piece and we will be out of luck. Trust me when I say this has happened before.
Aside from the desserts that are my absolute favorites there is not much that tickles my fancy. I suppose that I never really became accustomed to eating sugary things when I was growing and as an adult there were so many years when I needed my money for other things that I never developed either a craving or a habit for such things.
To me the most soothing food is a grilled cheese sandwich. If I had to eat grilled cheese everyday for the rest of my life I suspect that I would be content. I developed the habit when I was watching children in my home. Each time I asked them what they wanted for lunch the reply was the same, so for a couple of years I enjoyed the melted goodness and crispy outside of an ordinary grilled cheese sandwich everyday. I never grew weary of eating one.
You’d never know to look at me but food and dessert in particular is not generally a source of satisfaction for me. If I am alone I sometimes even forget to eat. Mostly I eat to be sociable. I like enjoying a meal with my husband and with friends more for the company and conversation that for the act of eating. Sadly it does not take much of that these days to increase my girth.
Being a child of the Great Depression made my mother a devotee of food. She saw food on the table as a sign of success. To her love was making sure that we never ever missed a meal. Perhaps because she managed to provide us so well I do not have particular cravings for eating much of anything. Still, if ever I’m near Cafe du Monde I lose control. I must have that delicious little pastry as much as I once longed for my grandmother’s pies and strawberry shortcake. Maybe my joy in such consuming such things is mostly about the taste of love