Why Dessert?

Bill Yosses, pastry chef at the White House

Dessert is a happy time. It’s sweet, satisfying and just pure pleasure.

A recent article about the demise of traditional desserts in American restaurants by Adam Gopnik (fun fact: he went to McGill!) featured an interview with Bill Yosses, pastry chef to the White House. Unfortunately you can only read the full article if you have a subscription to The New Yorker

Dessert is aspirational,” Yosses said, laying out his philosophy. “It’s the one part of the meal you don’t have to eat. It’s the purest part of the meal: the art part. But it’s also the greediest part, the eat-in-in-a-closet part. We don’t have to have it, and we do. When I was a kid, I would stuff my face with éclairs. I still would I guess…” His voice trailed off. “The real question is this,” he said. “How did this thing, this spice, sugar, become a staple? How did something that ought to be like saffron, a rare thing to add, become the thing we build on? How did a whole way of cooking creep up from sweetness? Why do we use it to end the meal? Those are the big questions.”

The type of questions to discuss over dessert. To think about while savouring a spoonful of crème brûlée or devouring that chocolate truffle.

I come by my love of dessert honestly. My grandparents were Austrian (with a “Let them eat cake” philosophy of life.) Add in my French ancestry, and the love of all things sweet is inevitable.
Growing up, dessert was always a special time. There was no fussing and fidgeting. No peas to pinch your nose to eat up, no veggies to try to hide. Some arguing over who got a bigger piece perhaps, but there were always seconds.
Everyone was happy.

Deep down, I’m not sure I trust someone who doesn’t enjoy dessert.
Then again, it also means more for me.

Categories: Dessert for supper


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