Love becomes a cliché in life when you don’t have it. And I’ve got it. I’ve got love by the spoonfuls! It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, especially my family. We all started at a very young age to develop this kind of love and devotion. And the result? I love dessert.
It’s a simple love, really, without statutes or limitations. I love all kinds of desserts. I believe ice cream should be it’s own food group. Cookies are epic. And brownies—well, you don’t even need to make ‘em from scratch. Give me a box of Duncan Hines, and I am good to go!
Now I used to believe that this sincere affixation was actually a “highly sophisticated palette,” developed throughout my youth— kind of like wine tasting, but for a white LDS kid. That theory was shattered the moment I realized sprinkling refined sugar on morning bowls of already sweetened Life cereal was not as sophisticated as I thought.
Still, that hasn’t prevented me from now learning, as a mature adult, to not only respect the importance of “rich and chocolatey,” but also the appeal of “light and sweet.” I can enjoy “hot and crispy” while appreciating “cool and creamy.” I can justify both “mild” and “tangy,” while making a separate case for both “ripe” and “tart.” And of course, I’m always ready for seasonal favorites…
Back home, the month of September always marked the peak of peach season. And the peak of peach season always marked the annual return of homemade peach ice cream to the Parsons household. Every year, as summer started winding down, Dad would dust off the old ice cream maker from the downstairs storage room and place it outside on the back steps. It had to be outside. As yummy as that ice cream was, the mechanical grating and scraping required to get it to that point was way too much to keep indoors.
In fact, the sound of the electric ice cream maker was downright noise pollution. It was louder than the buzz of the big dehydrator we used to make apricot fruit leather, and more drawn out that the squeal of the food processor that assisted us in preparing jam. Comparatively speaking, it was most like the sound of my little sister’s rock polisher from the 4th grade. That geological equivalent of an Easy Bake Oven sat in our garage grinding and polishing at the top of its lungs 24 hours a day for at least three weeks! I would often lay awake at night, plotting my revenge against the science department at Fisher Price. And on top of it all, by the time the rocks were finally as smooth as little drops of cake batter, “little sis” had lost all sedimentary interest.
The same fate, however, never befell our homemade ice cream. Despite all the time and noise it took to complete, the peach ice cream was always met with cheers and second helpings. Served up in my mom’s sunflower dinnerware, and eaten outside on a warm September day, this dessert will always remind me of two things. #1- The smell of mosquito spray. #2- That some things are worth the wait.
Other childhood desserts were far more immediate in nature, but no less appreciated. For example, I spent a lot of time with my mom’s parents, whose house made Candyland look like a vegetable garden. Grandma and Grandpa always had a treat basket filled with Hershey Chocolate Bars on which I would regularly declare war.
Grandma also frequently stocked her freezer with a fresh supply of Creamsicles. My favorite flavor was, surprisingly enough, banana. Banana Creamsicles had the sophistication of ice cream in the peppy convenience of a popsicle. I always thought of them as “an old person dessert,” probably because of their vintage-looking plastic sleeve. But at Grandma’s house, I knew I was mature enough to take them on.
Granny also made Bon Bons, which I requested one year for my birthday. I liked them because they looked and sounded exotic, but in reality, the chocolate dough wrapped around a Hershey Hug and drizzled with frosting was about as American as childhood obesity.
Which speaking of patriotism, do you what else is undeniably American? Cherry Pie. That was always my brother’s favorite request. My dad, as I remember it, seemed to favor Apple Pies, though I’m not sure if he liked to eat them as much as he liked to make them.
Not that I blame him. Making Apple Pies was pretty cool. We had one of those “peel, core, and slice” machines that would attach to the kitchen counter like a vice. You’d stick an apple on three little spikes, and then turn a crank that would send the apple through a series of events that left it looking like a Slinky. It was pretty amazing. It also left behind a lot of apple peelings that, for some reason, I always felt the responsibility to eat.
My mom, on the other hand, felt the responsibility to bake…Sugar Cookies…for every occasion. No matter the holiday, we had the corresponding cookie cutter. If you were feeling like an extra festive St Patty’s Day, BAM! Shamrock Sugar Cookies. If Easter needed a little something extra, BOOM! Chicks and Bunnies straight from the oven. And since Halloween was always more “cute and fun” at our house than “dark and spooky,” BING! Pumpkins, Witches, Bats, and Ghosts. All of them, delicious!
Come to think of it, the only family dessert I never really got behind was Gingerbread Cookies. They were made every year for Christmas, and while I enjoyed decorating them, I always had to use a lot of Cool Whip to get them down. Too dense for their own good, I say.
And with all of these desserts around, you’d think the same could have been said for my family. Too dense for our own good! The truth is, however, that we were all pretty active, so we never got too tubby. True, I had a “chubber” stage around the fifth grade, but then I had a growth spurt, and everything evened out. My loving relationship with dessert remained unscathed.
I was raised in a family that had no problem saying “I Love You.” I heard the phrase every day at least once, and read it countless other times. The napkin in my school lunch, the “welcome home from scout camp” banner, the Post-its on the bathroom mirror; all of them were upholstered with those three little words. And on the occasion when I couldn’t hear “I Love You,” or read “I Love You,” I could still smell “I Love You.”
Maybe that’s why now, whenever I start to roll my eyes at some cliché of love, I decide it’s time for a little dessert. J