The Sandoval Signpost (Web edition) is pleased
as punch (diet punch that is) to bring you the humor
and insightful human observations of Daniel Will Harris,
author of My
Wife and Times. —Ed].
Mad about Dessert
By Daniel Will Harris
I'm mad about dessert. Mad as in angry. I had the worst dessert
I've ever had last night and I woke up mad about it. There's
no excuse for bad dessert. None. It's a waste of calories,
time, anticipation, ingredients and most of all taste. A waste
of taste, that's it.
Before I continue to rant I'll preface this by saying that
"yes, I'm lucky to have food." I know it. There
are many people starving in this world, people who wouldn't
complain about a bad dessert. For them I donate to www.secondharvest.org
I was just reminded what hunger is because I had to fast
all day Wednesday and ate almost nothing Thursday. Not by
choice. I am not one of those people who thinks fasting is
good for the soul (though it is possibly good for the colon)
but I was having a colonoscopy and had to fast. Fasting for
just a day made it one of the slowest days on record. All
I could think about was food. And one of the major food groups
I was thinking about was dessert. Then I go and get a bad
It's pretty hard to mess up dessert. At the very least it
just needs to be sweet, unless it's a cheese course, and then
it just has to be not too moldy. Easy. I am so easy about
dessert I consider Jell-O acceptable. Not optimal, mind you,
as it doesn't come in chocolate, but not bad.
I'm not a snob, either, I don't snub supermarket cakes, or
even Twinkies (surprisingly good). If you can't make dessert,
just buy it, drop it on a plate and give me a fork.
You have to go pretty far to serve a bad dessert. I've had
a few, like when someone who shall remain nameless forgot
to put sugar in the lemon pie so they ended up with pucker
pie. Still, it had its appeal in very small doses. Or there
are those cookies that look like pink and white plastic animals
covered with colored ball bearings. But I don't count those
as dessert and I'm not even sure they qualify as food. I once
threw some outside on my deck for the animals and they went
uneaten. The only things that go uneaten on my deck are in
the rock, metal, and plastic families, so I now believe those
cookies belong in the inorganic category.
But when you are at a restaurant you don't expect a dessert
that tastes like a dentifrice. Of course, the entire meal
was a mess. It started with packaged salad so hard and tasteless
as to make me believe it would be tastier to eat the package.
Then came the pasta course which seemed more like an exercise
in extruded Play-Doh and ketchup.
The main course was somewhat more edible, as it involved
the virtually indestructible potato, some resilient chicken,
along with some vegetables that just seemed sad.
Then came the sorry excuse for dessert. It consisted of one
small scoop of icy ice "cream" (it was bad, and
there wasn't enough of it!), topped with one of those cookies
that look like the sole of a shoe (in fact, the guy who started
Nike used a waffle maker to make his first shoes, and this
restaurant might have used the same one since it had a kind
of polyurethane taste to it).
The ice cream had no flavor other than "cold" (which,
come to think of it, isn't really a flavor). I guessed it
was supposed to be vanilla, since it was whitish but it would
require a lot of imagination to taste anything other than
cold, except perhaps "greasy."
Then there was the so-called chocolate sauce. I couldn't
taste it, but I could see a little brown, certainly no more
than a teaspoon, tops—so little it seemed like a mistake,
"What happened to this cold white stuff and why is there
kind of a darkish trail running down it..." that kind
But the piece de resistance was the shoe-sole cookie. The
cookie tasted like toothpaste. Not mint, which would have
been tasty, but a no-doubt-about-it-Colgate quality that was
frankly repulsive in a cookie, especially one that followed
a greasy plasticy cold white ball.
To be fair, this was a "banquet" (or what passes
for the word "banquet" these days, meaning it was
a dinner for a bunch of people forced to choose between chicken,
fish or pasta, guaranteeing that no one really gets what they
want, which is just as well because no one really wants what
I know it's tricky to have to serve 30 people at once, but
this wasn't a huge affair, it wasn't 300 or 3,000 meals at
once. I've been to some events like that and the food can
still be good.
This was just lazy, crappy cooking. And I don't get it, because
they could have gone down the street to Costco, bought a bunch
of frozen entrees, shoved them in the oven and the results
would have been better than what appeared on the plates (and
cost less, too).
The final indignity was the price of $30 per person. I can
get good food for $30, and a lot of it! And I don't have to
sit through a lot of speeches and awards, either, which by
itself is worth $30. I could have gotten better food for $5
and donated the rest to www.SecondHarvest.org !
When I got to the car I found some dark chocolate in the
glove compartment (in case of emergency, like this one, or
being trapped in the desert without dessert), and I let it
dissolve in my mouth, washing away the toothpaste taste of
the shoe sole cookie and delivering a dose of endorphins necessary
to overcome this nerve shattering experience.
I've learned my lesson. Next year either I have to plan this
event, or pretend to have temporary amnesia that causes me
to forget the date.