Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pudding Will Make You Feel Better

Puddings don’t photograph all that well. But good pudding has a comforting, irresistible simplicity (and, I know, I'm not exactly the first or 10,000th person to take note of this). Curly is wild for crème brulee (and of interest only to me and Stumpy, I find this funny because I craved crème brulee when I was pregnant with her). My boy loves a good chocolate mousse (I know, I know, not technically a pudding… but it kind of is). Lemon curds, tiramisu, pot de crèmes, trifles… all have that tantalizing, silky mouthfeel, and what feels like a creamy crucible of flavor, everything unnecessary burned away (or strained, which, when you cook eggy puddings with kids, is a really important step). Most puddings are homely. They are not, ever, even when served in a really fancy glass or dish, the winners of dessert beauty prizes. But they are also something that makes one feel at home; they give a sense of well-being, of an ease and comfort that speaks deeply of home.
I’ve made a surprising number of puddings during Stumpy’s ongoing recovery. Tart filled with lemon curd and topped with sliced strawberries. Tiramisu. Butterscotch pudding. Crème anglaise. And, yes, I wonder why it is that I am gaining weight. I make no claim to being the sharpest tool in the shed. Which is probably good, because I'd have trouble doing that and keeping a straight face. Hi, I'm the sharpest tool in the shed (best done by keyboard, because you can't see me start to giggle at the monitor).

However, the edible comfort that a pudding provides, even with a few unwanted pounds, is what I’ve regularly yearned for over the last 13 or so weeks. Has it all been haaarrrrrd? Obviously not. My last post was about a trip to Rome. However tiring this long period of Stumpy's recovery may be, it’s a bit difficult to argue hardship when one has recently taken a trip to Rome. Or, uh, Hawaii. My good fortune is on the obscene side of lucky. I am not so tired that I can't see that, and even outside of the incredible travel, we've managed to have fun. At the same time, it’s been exhausting. I am perpetually behind (even more so than usual). These last few months have, at times, made me feel like I am completely feckless, and have no talent for navigating the bumpy bits in life.
Puddings have felt like good answers to that growling, unhappy, persistent feeling (which I can see is really exhaustion-created pessimism; as I say to the kids when they're worn out: it's hard to feel happy when you're wiped out). Despite a looming date with a leopard print unitard, pudding is a good thing. I suspect in 5 years, I will better remember the comfort that crème anglaise with strawberries and ladyfingers gave me more than I will gnash my teeth over what a pain it was to lose the 5 pounds I gained. I hope so, anyway. Because although Stumpy’s injury has been worse for him than me (on every front), it hasn’t been a relaxing proposition for me. And sometimes, with stress and chores (and chores, and chores), a pudding soothes and comforts. When the kids and Stumpy and I all have some together after a Sunday dinner (on yet another gray and cool Sunday- although apparently we're about to get a dose of hot sunshine), it creates, in the way that a homely dessert should, a sense of basking together, of being in the right place, of being at home.


Stumpy said...

I disagree that it's been harder on my than on you. For starters, I've had some powerful drugs to help me pass the time.

Plus I got to go a month without taking out the trash -- though it was maybe an extreme way to avoid household chores.

The puddings have been a nice bonus though. :-D

cook eat FRET said...

butterscotch pudding - the real stuff. it's on my list...

i love anything custardy

Meg said...

Stumpy- we can rock-paper-scissors over who's had it the harrrrdest. I'm glad you've liked the puddings.

Claudia- the butterscotch pudding was really, really good- although I thought it was improved by a dab of whipped cream to contrast with the huge butterscotch flavor.