I love dessert. Whenever I’m invited to a friend’s house for supper, I ask what I can bring. Partly because Mama raised me right, and partly because by offering I believe can ensure that dessert will be served.
As kids, my siblings and I found countless ways to ingest sugar. On summer nights we’d slurp down “Mud” (mint chocolate chip milkshakes with oreos), and on Snow Days we’d steal piping hot chocolate chip cookies off of the cooling rack.
Upon meeting Varun, my ideas about dessert were challenged. Instead of cookies or cake, traditionally, Indians eat brightly coloured “sweets”: laddus, jalebi, gulab jammun–just to name a few.
The first time I ate laddu’s, the small round sugary balls reminded me of donut holes (or Tim Bits, for my Canadian friends). As such, I popped an entire one into my mouth. OHMAGOSH. These things are sugar bombs. It now takes me between 15-20 nibbles to work my way through one, along with a generous cup of water.
This is where it gets ironic: I find most Indian sweets too sweet. And Varun finds many (or most) Western Desserts too sweet. Sometimes I feel this may be a cosmic prank. And sometimes we find ourselves in serious dessert limbo.
I’m particularly fond of a Sicilian dessert that I grew up on: cannoli. It’s a sweet, crunchy pastry shell filled with creamy and sugary ricotta-based filling. YUM. Before we went to Maine, my Mom went to her favorite bakery in Brooklyn to load up on cannoli.
Mom: Should I bring you some?
Me: YES! But please get extra filling. Because they always cheap out on you on the filling and no one actually wants the shell.
Mom: Okay. I’ll ask for extra filling.
Me: But seriously. However much she tells you, even after you ask for extra, get more. Unless you need both hands to carry it out of the store, you didn’t get enough.
Mom: Haha, okay! Oh! I can freeze some so you’ll even have leftovers to take to Canada.
(You see, of course, why I love my Mother. And why I love dessert.)
Guess who brought me 4 quarts (3.78 L) of cannoli cream? YUP. That’s right, my Mom.
I am now the proud owner of I was the proud owner of 4 quarts of cannoli cream. Oh what creamy deliciousness I have enjoyed. There’s just one glitch: Varun, it seems, finds cannoli too sweet. (!!!). Yesterday, as we snuggled in to watch the final episode of Downton Abbey (I told you I’d get him to love it. He was simply addicted!!) I made myself a cannoli. Like any true addict, I decided it would taste better if someone else had one too (“One can’t hurt…”). Varun was adamant, no cannoli. But yes dessert. I found my last pasta di mandorla. He smelled the almond through the wrapping and grabbed at it. I grabbed back. We laughed. (We’re not real grown-ups, mind you)
Me: Okay, Varun. You can have this cookie. But I have to tell you something.
Varun: (Laughing) Um, okay.
Me: This cookie is very special. It’s from a special bakery in Sicily. My family got my brother in law to send some when he was there. They are very good and it’s my last one and it’s almond (this is Varun’s key word, as he [wrongly] believes that all desserts are better with nuts) AND-
Varun: And it’s from Grandma? OHMAGOSH I can’t eat your Last Cookie From Grandma.
Me: Yes! Yes it is! And you can! That’s why I’m telling you because it’s so delicious and so special!
(Varun tastes a bite)
Varun: This is so good. (Munching) When can we buy our plane tickets to Italy?
The lesson here is, if you love someone very much, you can work through all kinds of differences, even over dessert.
(And in case you thought it’s just my Mom and I who have a dessert problem…)