“Two friends took me to a higher end vegan restaurant. The food was excellent, and I mean dish after dish, appetizer after appetizer. The portions were small, but prissy establishments are like that. Monied people don’t eat much, they just sit and stroke flatware while their bones jut. While you and I might chew, they blot, converse and sip expensive drinks. I should know, I’ve worked for more than a few.
Successful dining at high end restaurants is achieved by ordering vast quantities, and ordering vast quantities is best done when someone else is footing the bill. It was my birthday so I scarfed away. My friends should have known better than to sit me down in a place like this; maybe they didn’t care, God knows I didn’t. Then came dessert time.
I ordered bread pudding. I’ll never get over it.
It was the size of a doubled sugar cube, the color of a clipped toenail, and was floating in a pool of gelatinous, off-white man juice. A sprig of something green clung to its side like the survivor of a shipwreck clinging to a piece of luggage. ‘Nearer my god to thee’ flew through my brain, but God would throw this thing across the room and smite the idiot who concocted it. All I could do was stare, dumbfounded.
‘Anything else sir?’
I couldn’t speak so a friend took over. ‘No we’re fine, thanks.’
Bread pudding was invented by poor English people as a way to put stale bread to good use. These people worked, they didn’t stroke flatware and blot pursed lips. And if they had jutting bones it was a symptom of plague, not some kind of soulless fashion statement. Calories mattered, money was tight, and pleasure hard to come by. Amazingly, out of this grist mill of struggle and misery came one of the best desserts known to man.
There are many variations but mainly bread pudding is bread, eggs, butter and a few other things. Throw in an extra egg or two, raisins, vanilla, or whatever gets your tender parts tingling. ‘Poor man’s pudding’ is versatile, up for everything, it’s not one of these nervous desserts that requires elaborate preparation, a masters in fine art, mood lighting or ambiance; you don’t have to know French to order it. It doesn’t rise, fall, expand or any of that stuff—It doesn’t flame or have a frozen lump of blah blah sitting inside it. Bread pudding is basic, proletariat, jolly, juicy, wet, and willing.
It gushes. It seeps. It trembles with anticipation like an ample butt waiting for a belt to strike.
I have no idea what I was looking at, but it wasn’t bread pudding.
I suddenly hated everything about the place: the rail thin owner, his anemic wife, the fellow patrons and their austere, tucked in and pressed presentation. ‘Boomers’ I thought, my brain hungry to direct my irritation somewhere. ‘Freakin boomers.’ My friends were smiling.
‘How’s the pudding?’ One asked and everyone broke into laughter.
‘Federal doughnuts. NOW!’ I command. ‘I’m in dire need of animal fat.’
We left and never went back.”