A dessert-obsessed cook meets her match
Nextbook.org, October 5, 2005
It is Monday morning, and I know exactly what I will be eating for
dessert tomorrow when I host guests for Rosh Hashanah. As a riff on
apples and honey, there will be fresh plum compote with honey-yogurt
gelato to pay homage to the season and the ubiquitous dried fruit
compote at my grandmother's table. Less obvious at this late hour are
the courses that will precede it.
This problem is not new. I have always been motivated by sugar, and tend to build a dinner menu based on a dessert and work backwards. Most recently, I spent nights belly-aching over what savories would go well with passion fruit tart while planning my birthday.
Happily, Rosh Hashanah encourages this topsy-turvy approach. Partaking of sweets is mandatory for ushering in a sweet New Year, and it leaks into every aspect of dinner—prunes in the brisket, sugar in the tzimmes, challah and apples dipped in honey. Moreover, bitter foods are forbidden. The year my grandmother denied me horseradish for my gefilte fish was a dark moment.
As I sit here and scratch my head, I consider making chicken marbella, a Mediterranean dish with olives and prunes, or Moroccan rice with blistered nuts, currants, golden raisins, or apricots. Now that everything can be sweet, those helpful limits have dissolved and I have even less of an idea of what to do. Momentarily, I am distracted by a memory of my other grandmother's honey cake. The unrefined creation, the color of brown bread, was one of my favorites growing up. The tug of its appeal is strong, and I am sidetracked from my dinner brainstorm. Maybe I can make room for one more dessert.