I believe in Queen Mother Tortes, Concorde Cakes, and Chocolate Chip Macaroons. I believe in cherry-packed Black Forest Cakes, Tunnels of Fudge with walnuts, and Brown Bear with extra chunky bits of mousse. I believe in the measuring, the mixing, the pouring the pounding, the baking the browning, the finger-lickin’, bottom-of-the-bowl scrapin, back of the spoon savin’, the delectable deliciousness of dessert.
There is no racism with dessert; dark chocolate melts over semi-sweet brownies, raspberry sauce is poured over lemon chiffon, and milk chocolate mixes with white macadamia nuts and fudge. I believe in dessert.
There is no segregation with dessert; every cake, every cookie, every mousse and brownie and candy is baked or browned or carmelized in the same set of dishes and pots and pans and sheets that are washed in the same sink, dried in the same dishdrainer, and stored in the same kitchen cupboards. I believe in dessert.
There is no homophobia with dessert; the Portuguese Wedding Cake is 13 layers of wafer, one on top of the other on top of the next. My brother’s favorite Concorde cake has rows and rows of chocolate meringue sticks, each slathered in mousse and stuck to each other, pressing against the side of the cake. Cake on cake, chocolate on chocolate, sauce on sauce. Cake on chocolate, chocolate on sauce, sauce on cake, chocolate in sauce on cake. I believe in dessert.
There is no ageism, no ableism, no classism. With dessert, there is only one ism; delicioussism.
Almost every year, for our almost-annual holiday party, my mother bakes more than 40 different desserts. We invite our family and our neighbors, my parents invite their colleagues and residents, and my brother and I invite our friends and our teachers. Our house is filled to bursting with all walks of life and all varieties of sweet tooth cravings. Teachers talking to parents, talking to doctors, talking to the mailman, talking to 90-year-old neighbors, playing with 4-year-old nieces and nephews. Dessert brings each one of these characters into our home and into each other’s lives. They surround the table with plates in hand, eyes bigger than the saucers holding the mint brownies, mouths watering for the ganache-filled candies, astounded that one woman – my mother – could do all this all her own. I believe in dessert.
“Where does she get all these desserts?” Exclaims a guest, gazing at the chocholatey choices.
“She bakes them. Here, try this one. It’s my favorite.” I slide of piece of fruit pizza onto her plate, and slyly lick my finger. Mmmmm kiwis, raspberries, blackberries; the sweet of the berries with the cream cheese icing on the vanilla sugar cookie crust melts into my mouth, and I secretly hope that no one else discovers this heavenly treat. It makes the best breakfast.
“She BAKES them? ALL of them?” The dessert-party virgin looks up as she bites into the slice. “Ohhhhhhhhh…. Mmmmmmmm. Yes.” And right before my eyes, this mid-fifties, graying and wrinkling and smiling woman, has become a believer.