Ireland is a dessert first nation. I’m convinced that somewhere in the small print of the the proclamation of the Republic, there is a clause enshrining the right of all Irish people to regular desserts. We Irish are shockingly sweet-toothed, worshipping at monuments of whipped cream, meringue and chocolate.
Ireland is a dessert first nation. I’m convinced that somewhere in the small print of the Proclamation of the Republic, there is a clause enshrining the right of all Irish people to regular desserts. We Irish are shockingly sweet-toothed, worshipping at monuments of whipped cream, meringue and chocolate.
Desserts of the Apocalypse
As I celebrate my birthday, I will confronted with many of these confections. The eyes of my companions will travel straight to the dessert menu. But I’ll feel my heart sink, as I find myself yet again confronted with the Four Desserts of the Apocalypse.
I refer to them this way not just because they’re heart attacks on a plate but because I’m quite tickled by the idea of the Apocalypse coming in the form of dessert. I picture people sinking into vats of sugar, cream and chocolate, and monsoon of meringues pelting down on us from the sky.
What are these four culprits? Banoffee pie, chocolate brownies, Pavlova and tiramisu. I realise many people are fans of these desserts, in which case, worry not. You’ll die happy.
Between Sweet and Savoury
A part of me envies other people their uncomplicated dessert tastes. You see, I inhabit a dessert no-man’s land between sweet and savoury. You might ask: why not have the cheese plate, that traditional sop to the savouries. But being the contrary soul that I am, the one time I don’t want cheese is after a meal. Frankly, I’m lazy, and hacking at bits of cheese with a knife seems too much like hard work.
What I’m after is a refreshing morsel to fill the tiny space left at the top of my belly after my delicious meal. The citrus tang of lemon or orange. The complex challenge of dark chocolate. Or the invigorating bite of raspberries, rhubarb or blackcurrant, the taste of life itself. Such tastes are hard to find. After providing inventive, richly satisfying starters and main courses, it seems as if restaurant chefs shrug and say, ‘Let them eat cake.’
I usually only encounter these tangy treats at high-end restaurants, where the desserts are punctuated with commas. Lemon posset, raspberry coulis, shortbread biscuits. In these sorts of restaurants, I find myself confronted with a problem that I call, ‘the dessert liqueur axis.’ Not only do their menus feature mouthwatering desserts, they also stock an extensive range of liqueurs, which are great at bringing your tongue back to life. To have both would be gluttony, so what to do?
Ordering a liqueur would give me an excuse to use the phrase ‘post-prandial,’ and I could imagine myself retiring with the gentlemen after dinner to discuss the South Sea bubble. But I think of my mother’s French coffees, with a perfect circle of cream floating on a beautifully balanced midnight mixture of coffee, brandy and sugar. And I know that not even the fanciest restaurant can compete. So dessert wins, and I order a zingy dish that makes my tongue sing.