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Recipe Ramble: Pouding Chômeur

By Dinu Mahapatuna

Voices Editor

This column isn’t supposed to be informative; it’s just revealing. It’s supposed to read hungry and mildly aggressive, like most of us tend to feel. But this issue I sense that my angst has faded. This month marks the gooiest days of my time as a CEGEP student. I’m weeks away from graduation, like many editorial members of The Plant, and my life has slowed to an ebb.

When you’re in limbo, you float. You feel present in every vein of a moment, as if you were once a part of the stream, but, now, you’ve stopped to watch the syrup drip over your eyes and blur anxiety into icing sugar. You’ll find yourself turning around, looking to where the honey has pooled; it’s your vast consciousness, past and aspiration. It’s every single article I’ve written and edited for this newspaper. It’s the crush I had when I wrote about banana bread and the pain oozing out of my edits when I doubted my ability to write altogether. It’s the sprinting humour of one Ask the Plant that made me realize the potential of this newspaper and the sweetest doodles next to the poems and the horoscopes I never want to believe. They’re sugar in my veins, as I hope they are yours.

In other words, yes, I’m feeling sappy, but a recipe ramble needs a recipe to validate the ramble and nothing is sappier than the Quebecois classic: pouding chômeur.

My first pouding chômeaur was in high school, on a trip to a Cabane à Sucre. The snow had finished falling in wet clumps when I enjoyed the pudding (really a steamed cake drenched in a cream-infused maple-syrup reduction). Like most of the meals served within that stifling log-cabin, the richness of the dish, all butter and sugar, is fit to debilitate Olympic athletes (no pun intended).

For me pouding chômeur and the four times I’ve consumed it are part of a story of growth and change. The first time I tasted it, I was an immigrant who questioned the sanity and general health of Quebecers everywhere (seriously artery-clogging). The second time, I was still a kid, celebrating my father’s birthday at a brasserie; I ate the ice cream on top of the pouding and nothing more (the pudding was a civilian casualty in my onslaught). Now I’m an adult, ready to fly the proverbial coop, and I’ve eaten the pouding twice more because it would make my heart ache more not to (warning: eating this dessert will also make your heart ache; you’re trading emotional pain for physical, but bragging rights are maintained only in the physical course).

My little sister has made the dessert twice in the last two months. She spends two hours on an hour-long recipe, painstakingly condensing maple syrup into cream, before scooping cake batter into an oven-tray of the mixture. I think I know why she enjoys watching the cake steam in the syrup; it’s practical magic, science and fantasy, an ingenious little treat in life.

Each time she’s made it, I’ve abandoned any usual grudge against the sickeningly sweet and eaten myself into a coma. Why? Because she made it. Because it was intended for my family and I feel like these precious moments of us all together are evaporating fast. My youth like yours, is syrup in a pouding chômeur, soaked into the cakey mass of existence and eaten by sugar-addicts without any sense of delicacy (and here returns that elusive teen angst).

As much as I like to accuse the pudding chômeur of being single-handedly responsible for this province’s obesity rate, there is much to appreciate about the dessert’s richness. For one, you never forget the weight of it in your stomach. Sure, it’s suffocating, but it’s also warm and all-encompassing. It’s a dessert that leaves an impression on your body (not always in the form of cholesterol), as we all hope to leave an impression on this world.

Image: Funky Photo by Dinu



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