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April 04, 2003

Ancestral Pudding I had not

Ancestral Pudding

I had not realized this before last night, but as garlic is to vampires, so rice pudding is to Ngnat.

I like rice pudding, I always have. Like a fool, I assumed she would as well. She likes rice. She likes pudding. What could she possibly find to object to upon finding them combined?

Yet object she did, loudly and at length, from the moment she climbed into her plastic booster seat and saw IT there, glistening in the formal wedding china ramekin I had spooned it into, as we possess no pudding cups in our everyday china. Nor have we the plastic variety with the pop off stems for easy cleaning that my mother was so fond of in the three decades prior to the turn of the century. They were impervious to harm, made of a plastic seemingly not of this world, a plastic rendered indestructible by the yellow rays of our alien sun. Invulnerable, yet flexible. They held not only pudding, but fruit cocktail, soup, Ice cream and, on occasion Kozy Kitten cat food, the official cat food of the Fremen. "Now with extra melange!"

Pity the poor boy who objected to his container of pudding simply because it had been a container of cat food only a matter of hours earlier, for he soon had nothing to complain about, and his brethren had more.

But I am not here to speak of tableware, as interesting as that discursion undoubtedly would be. You fans of oyster forks and scalloped finger bowls must swallow your dismay, compose yourselves, and manfully soldier on in spite of this disappointment. One day, my friends, one day soon. The time will come, I've always said, to talk of all those things: Of rouxes and dips and peeling-racks, of cabbage knives with wings. And why the soup is boiling hot, and why napkins have rings.

I am here to speak of my daughter, and her innate revulsion for all things found in ramekins, or at least of all things that she has found in ramekins thus far in her life, and of the titanic clash of wills that shall ever after be known in the annals of my family's history as

That Time You Tried To Make Her Eat The Pudding

And it came to pass in the house of Bigwig that the time of the evening meal drew nigh. And Bigwig did busy himself in food preparation, for his wife was swollen with child and could not be made to bestir herself from the divan upon which she did recline to watch Entertainment Tonight and speak irritably of the events of the day. And Bigwig did set the table, filling the platters of his wife and daughter with the flesh of calf and chicken, with sauce of the apple and shredded tuber, cooked after the manner of his ancestors before him, who had dwelt the southwest of his nation. He did also provide the chilled milk of the cow for the women of his household to quench their thirst and soothe their nerves, for he feared the demon Osteo Poro Sis, and wished for it to enter not into his house. For himself he did chose a Tab, for he did crave the the taste of saccharine. And for a sweet he did place in cunning little bowls pudding of rice, as it had been among the treasures of his house and of his forebears before him for many years. And he did chant in a low voice a song of his ancestors, a song to make the pudding strong.

Seek for the rice that is pudding:
In Ramekins it dwells;
There shall be spoonfuls taken
larger than Cosby-gels.
There shall be praises spoken
When more is near at hand,
For Anorexia's bane shall awaken,
And the Pudding forth shall stand.

And when the table was set, and the evening's sustenance placed upon it, sweetly did Bigwig summon the females of his household to arise and partake of the meal, bidding them in dulcet tones to enter into the kitchen whilst he decanted the Tab and brought forth the milk of the cow, that it might protect them from that hellish devourer of bone when the time of their dotage was upon them.

And the wife and daughter of Bigwig arose, and did enter therein, saying many glad and pleasurable things about the meal that lay before them, until they did espy the cunning little bowls in which Bigwig had carefully spooned the pudding of rice. And a shadow did cross the face of his wife, for though she and he were of the same house, their lines had been sundered many ages before, and her ancestors had lost all of the treasures of that house, even unto the pudding of rice.

And when the shadow had finished its passage across her brow she did speak, inquiring after the provenance of the contents of the bowl before her in tones not dulcet or pleasurable, but suspicious and somewhat aggrieved, or so they did sound unto the ear of Bigwig. And he did speak unto her crossly, for he had not prepared a meal to hear it questioned even before any present had tasted of it, and he feared the the reaction of his daughter Ngnat to the air of superstition that now lay about the pudding of rice, as if it were a pudding of Brussels sprouts or elderly liver.

Sadly, as the prophet Ray Stevens had said in the days of Bigwig's youth, "But it was too late, she'd already been incensed." The fruit of his wife's womb had not fallen far from the tree and Ngnat did push away the cunning little bowl and its contents, declaring to all that could hear that she "Did not like that."

And Bigwig did give the partner he had chosen for the voyage through eternity the evil eye, for this was her doing, and he spoke not to her, but addressed himself to Ngnat, remonstrating with her, for how could she know that she did not like the pudding of rice if she had never tasted of it?

To this wisdom Ngnat answered not, and verily did turn her head aside whenever presented with the pudding of rice, no matter whether it came to her encased in cunning bowls or atop a metal spoon in the hand of her father. And Bigwig did grow wroth with her, and threatened the Counting of The Three if she did not eat her pudding of rice, and told her of The Dismissal from the Table that would follow if she continued in her refusal of his will.

But Ngnat ate not of her pudding of rice, even though her mother tasted of it and pronounced it "UnHorrible", which was high praise indeed considering the source. And Bigwig, perceiving this to be a contest of wills, held a gobbet of the pudding in front of his daughter and started the Counting of The Three, for he was genetically incapable of surrendering to another's will when they abandoned the path of logic and reason.

And Ngnat, fearing The Dismissal from the Table that would follow upon the heels of the completed Counting did open her mouth, wherein Bigwig did place the gobbet of pudding, sure within the cockles of his heart, yea, sure even unto the sub-cockle area, that Ngnat would now taste of the pudding and find it delightful, for was she sprung from the seed of his loins?

But Ngnat did not find the pudding delightful, and did refuse to chew or even to close her mouth once the pudding was placed therein. Her tongue drew away from the pudding as if it were anathema, and retreated to the nethermost corner available to it. The eyes of Ngnat grew shiny and full, and she began to cry. And lo! the tears did run down her cheeks and trickle into her mouth, mixing there with the pudding of rice in manner distressing to Bigwig, for he perceived that that his offspring was appearing dutiful while yet violating the spirit of his will. Also his wife was suppressing giggles. And Bigwig was at a loss, for his offspring had not yet divined the meaning of the word "Swallow", as he did presently learn. As he did not know what else to do, he proceeded with The Dismissal from the Table, and his progeny went and dwelt in the land of Time-Out while he ate of his own pudding of rice.

It tasted of ashes. And lo! when he finished his pudding of rice he ate also his daughter's, and it tasted also of ashes. And Bigwig arose from the table and sought his daughter in the land where she was exiled, to return her to the kitchen that she might eat of the meat of the calf and chicken and of the shredded tubers and apple sauce, but not of the pudding of rice.

And when he returned with the bright-eyed Ngnat, he did avail himself of his wife's pudding, for she had touched it not after tasting of it once.

And Lo! It was much better.

Posted by Bigwig at April 4, 2003 04:00 PM | TrackBack
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