Wednesday, September 5

The Last of the Great Rawhicans and the Feeding Frenzy of the Ravenous Piranha People

This was it. My final recipe! Trio of Gelatos. Don’t you love it? My last recipe is actually three recipes. Frankly all recipes in this book seemed to be a composite of several recipes to each one, but hell, who’s counting?

We were having our long time friends Rick, Mady and Ed over night. We had been looking forward to this get-together, as it had been a while since we last had them all up to our Sonoma place. I imagined I would celebrate their visit with my grand finale last dessert. The actual recipe was Trio of Gelatos: Persimmon, Pineapple and Chocolate.

OK, folks, persimmons don’t begin to appear for months. What to do, what to do? I called Nancy Kux, professional baker extraordinaire for advice. What would be a good substitute? Damn, she must have gone out of town for the long weekend, no return call. What was good right now, I asked myself. And what would be colorful? Plums turned out to be the answer. Now for the chocolate gelato. Well, I still had a full container of fudge (raw chocolate, maple syrup and almond butter) left over from my failed attempt at truffles. I really wanted to use that up, plus it was scrumptious! So I decided not to make chocolate gelato but keep it vanilla so we could make sundaes! Plum, Pineapple and Hot fudge Sundae it would be!

I had thoughtfully frozen the ice cream canisters and packed them in the cooler for the trip. As soon as we arrived, into the freezer they went. I was prepared. As I began pureeing the pineapple and plums in preparation of the fruit gelatos, I reflected on the fact that I was making three gelatos and only had two canisters. This detail was compounded by the fact that I did not start the day before as I had planned, but on the day of our guests’ arrivals, Sunday.

I began to sweat bullets when for some reason the plum puree would just not freeze. I tried to be patient, but I had to admit when after 20 minutes it was still liquid something was wrong. I picked up the canister and much to my fear, it wasn’t frozen! How could this be? I had put it in the freezer the night before! I quickly put the puree into another container and put in the frig. I stuffed the non-frozen canister with ice, padded it with freezer bags and set it inside the ice tray of the freezer. Please, Goddess of Ice, freeze my canisters! It was a good thing I got started in the morning, maybe with a little luck the canister would be frozen by afternoon. I still had to make the pineapple and the vanilla!

After an hour or so, I tried the other canister and ice-creamed up the pineapple. Goddess of Ice came through. I lost no time returning that canister to the freezer to hopefully freeze up before I needed it for the vanilla gelato. Finally the moment came when I could no longer put off the plum gelato. I expectantly pulled out the canister. Shook it. I could hear no liquid. Goddess, please let it be frozen. I poured in the chilled plum puree and flipped the switch and fled. I ran around the property doing chores so I would not melt it with my anxious gaze. I came back about 15 minutes later and hallelujah! Clumps were beginning to appear. Freezing happens. Two down, one to go. I decided to put off the vanilla until the very end to build up my freezer credits with the Great Goddess.

We had a fabulous dinner, the sunset was beautiful, the weather was perfect and we were all quite entertained watching Rick futilely bat away these little flies (for some reason he was the only one) who relentlessly flocked his ears. Ah, life was Good. Worlds collided as they often do with me and I enjoyed some grilled pork loin and the wine was flowing. I snuck into the kitchen, pulled out the canister I hoped would be most frozen, poured the chilled vanilla puree in and flipped the switch. Again, I couldn’t bear to watch. I walked back out to the picnic table to our guests, but I was nervously pacing and it wasn’t long before I returned to peer into the whirling ice cream maker. Still liquid. Don’t worry, it will happen.

I went back out, slammed back a gulp of Menage A Trois Red and confessed my worst fears with my guests. This was my last recipe and the vanilla gelato looks like it’s not going to freeze! This crowd was completely undaunted by this prospect and was all too quick for my tastes to come up with lots of alternatives for my beloved gelato We’ll have slushies! someone said. Yes, we’ll make milk shakes, said another. NO! I screamed, it HAS to turn out!
They all gave me that look.
Like, how unnecessary to take this thing so darn seriously, I mean REALLY. I ran back into the kitchen, I was alone in my resolve. They obviously did not know what this meant to me.

Well, it did seem to be slushing a bit, but why was it taking so long? I stopped the process, changed the canister out with the other one from the freezer. I would not be dicked with! I flipped the switch, poured a generous glass of wine and went back out to more creative alternatives such as granitas, snow cones and slurpees. I would have none of it. It seemed like forever, but eventually my vanilla mixture began to stiffen up and form those beautiful frozen wave-globs. As soon as it looked good enough, I hauled it into the freezer to finish. I would not take the chance that the canister would warm up and undo this progress!

The moment was upon me. Us, the World. Out came the other two and into the microwave went the fudge sauce (sorry, this is completely anti-raw, but I didn’t care, I wanted HOT fudge!) I scooped up the first two and then triumphantly took out the vanilla and scooped it too. Of course our camera had run out of batteries, so thank God Rick with flies still buzzing his ears took over as photographer.

After the photo shoot I had planned to serve dessert, civilized style, out on the dinner table with each guest having their own serving. I never made it that far. Our dinner guests began to hover around like piranha. I had barely served up another scoop before they all began to dive in with their spoons. While they were having spoon wars, I grabbed the fudge sauce and poured it over a couple of scoops of the vanilla gelato. I think that’s when things got ugly.

Spoons were clacking, lips were smacking. Gutteral sounds were humming out of mouths. Did you taste the plum? No, you HAVE to taste the pineapple. Oh, the plum is my favorite, no the vanilla. No fudge for me, I like it as is, cried Mady. No, you HAVE to try the fudge! Oh my God, the Fudge! More fudge, please. I slathered it on. We shamelessly attacked the defenseless gelatos.

It was ridiculous. It was truly a feeding frenzy of the first degree and it could not have been a finer finale, a more gratifying send-off for the completion of all 52 recipes. This has been such a deep and satisfying odyssey for me, but to have some of our dearest friends chowing like starving vultures on my very last recipe as if it was the last dessert they would ever have, well….it made my heart smile.

I stood on a chair, donned the book and announced myself Complete. Fin. Au Revoir. No Mas. Finito. Terminé. There was applause. There was more wine. And just like that, it was over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Maurine - Congratulations and well-deserved kudos! Your dedication to meeting your goal and the way you accomplished it with great humor and spirit should inspire everyone who has had the pleasure of reading their way through the journey with you. It certainly inspired me to take on new projects... warmly, Cath W.