Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)
By Marty Norman
I have always loved snow pudding. This amazing desert has been a Christmas tradition in my family for as long as I can remember, at least as far back as my grandmother and great-grandmother - maybe even further.
But why snow pudding? I’m afraid no one knows. It’s just something that has been passed down through the generations. There’s an art and knack to making the pudding but each generation has to discover it on their own.
As a little girl I remember sitting around my grandmother’s large, mahogany dining table at holiday season waiting for the unveiling. Gangy, my great-grandmother was in charge. The lights would dim and everyone would hold their breath as she ceremoniously and without guile marched into the room with her masterpiece on a platter. The admiration and applause were deafening, at least to the ears of a three-year-old child.
“Our hero” everyone proclaimed as they crowned her queen for a day. Gangy knew the art of making snow pudding.
In time the honor was passed onto Shakey, my grandmother, a tiny 5 foot beauty whose aging roundness brought smiles to a little girl’s face and joy to her heart. With no less humility, she too displayed the pudding with great aplomb, fanfare, and applause.
The honor was then passed on to my aunt and namesake, Auntie Mar. Martha tirelessly and ceaselessly carried on the tradition until she, too, perfected the art. My memory records that she did receive a lot of teasing and ribbing during the years of pudding failure.
“Oh no, Mar, the pudding did not snow again this year,” shouted all the children as she would march in with her head and pudding held high. But that changed when she finally conquered the challenge.
Just to keep the record straight, a failed pudding is not a flavorless pudding. Snow pudding is aptly named because the top of the dessert resembles snow. Snow or no snow, the pudding and accompanying sauce are delicious. But it was the look. A failed pudding looked like a mountain with a sheet of ice on the top rather than a mound of mouth-watering, snow. Making a pudding snow is no easy task for a novice cook.
Mar finally mastered the technique, and the keeper of the recipe and keys were flung to the next generation. You guessed it. They landed right smack dap in the middle of my lap! Now I am the keeper of the keys. What is a woman to do? How can I end a tradition that has gone on for generations?
So for the past few years I have attempted this recipe on a holiday basis but to no avail. No snow, yet, just ice and sleet!
One year I tried sneaking in bread pudding. Caught in mid-act, I was severely reprimanded. The disappointment on everyone’s face put me to shame.
Webster’s dictionary defines snow pudding as a noun,” I defended protesting loudly. “A pudding made very fluffy and light by the addition of whipped egg whites and gelatin. In fact in England, pudding is just a fancy name for sweet deserts.”
The next year I tried a different tact. “Why don’t we try something new?’ How about a plum pudding or a hasty pudding?. I have an idea, let’s try figgy pudding – all the carolers are asking for it. No then how about Yorkshire, Rebecca, Universe or Manhattan pudding? All right, you win. I’ll try again.”
Clearly, this family is out of touch and can not digest the extreme difficulty of the task at hand.
Last year I tried to distract them. “Why are we fixated on snow pudding? Do you have any idea how many snows there are out there? There’s snow plant, snow pea, snow job, snow goose, snow fence, snow men, snow crab, snow flea, snow cone, snow tire, snow ball,, snow flake. Why don’t we try one of them?”
No go. So the die is cast.
I am determined that this will be the year for success. Maybe if the pudding snows I too can pass on the tradition. Unfortunately I have no daughters - only have daughters-in-law. Surely one of them will pick up the gauntlet. If not, I may have to wait until my grand daughter who is seven grows into a young woman.
Mmmm…..now that’s an idea. Maybe if I begin training her now….
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