Today is Multi-Cultural Day at our elementary school, and the kids have been encouraged to bring desserts that reflect their heritage. As you might imagine, Surfer Dude is all fired up about this, planning on making some spectacular dessert to wow his classmates and cement his reputation as Iron Chef 2020.
There was a small glitch in this, however, in that he forgot to tell me about it. So Sunday at 5 pm when I rolled in the door from a four hour shift I hadn't wanted to work, (timed perfectly to wipe out the entire day with one short shift), he met me at the door and told me we needed to make crepes for school.I said What? He said Crepes, and then told me the whole story. I said But we don't have any French blood. And he said We can make something from any country we like, it doesn't have to be a country we're from. (Being a chef in the making, he considers French cuisine to be the top of the tier, so to speak, so it figures that he'd pick crepes). I looked at the clock and started totting up everything else I still had to do (grocery shopping, dinner, bake a cake for my friend Stacey's 50th birthday Monday, pick up Sasquatch downtown and get ready to be at work at 7 am) and thought crepes? I haven't made crepes since French class in Montessori school when I was twelve. And even then I don't remember them as being what you'd call successful.
I tried an end run and asked if he'd consider other desserts. I said that the crepes would be cold and probably wouldn't taste so hot by the afternoon when the dessert buffet would be spread out. He wasn't swayed. I said Well, if you're okay with people thinking you make soggy crepes it's okay with me. That hit him in his little culinary heart all right. He asked if I had any other ideas. I said Wouldn't it be nice to make something that actually does reflect your heritage? And before I could say Boo, he practically shouted Baklava! Let's make Baklava!
Now for those of you who have never made baklava (and this absolutely includes me), it's an ungodly time consuming process that involves lots of skill and practice to pull off. I remember being a little kid and watching all my female relatives come over to spend the day gossiping and trash talking and making tray after tray of baklava to put in the freezer. (I also have a clear memory of eating most of a huge tray myself once when no one was looking and puking for days as a result, with my aunt's shrill rebukes raining down on my head while I heaved). All of this flashed through my head and in a reflex move I said my word of the week. NO. Next idea?
But then I had a brainstorm. The FG's grandmother was full-blooded Hispanic and my kids love churros. So I said How about churros? He wrinkled up his nose and said Only if we make them from scratch. I'm thinking Rub a lamp, kid, but I said How about if we buy the frozen ones, but after we cook them you can toss them in some powdered sugar and cinnamon as your personal touch? To my amazement, he went for it. Patting myself on the back for my sneaky/lazy mom ingenuity, we walked off to the store.
They had no churros. Nada. So we came home, got in the car and drove to the other grocery store where I knew for a fact they had frozen churros. Strike two. I had no idea what was going on, but obviously there was some churro fest in town that we hadn't been invited to. My blood pressure was heading north. So, standing in the frozen foods aisle, we desperately brainstormed a Plan B. I'm thinking buy a pack of Twinkies at this point and he's wondering how long it takes to make creme brulee and where he can find a blowtorch. A small divergence of goals, I do believe.
We finally decided on a pie. Why pie? Couldn't tell you. We headed back into the aisles to buy ingredients (does Anthony Bourdain serve frozen pie? asked SD huffily) and then all of a sudden he stopped in his tracks at a dessert display that had, of all things, french pastries in neat little packages. With big, round eyes he took in the puff pastry and whipped cream filling. It was love at first sight. He didn' t even notice his mother doing her happy dance right by the spaghetti sauce because she wasn't going to have to make a pie. We bought three packages with different fillings and he's perfectly content. (I was dying to say Does Anthony Bourdain serve already made french pastries? but I know when I'm well off. One word out of me and I'd be up to my elbows in puff pastry until midnight).
So tomorrow he'll head off to Multi-Cultural day with a dessert that celebrates other people's heritage, but not his own. And you know what? I'm totally okay with that.