Tuesday, July 21, 2009

TWD - Blueberry Blankety-Blank Manger and Newlyweds

This week’s TWD is Blanc Manger, picked by Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy. I’ve never made Blanc Manger and I’m not sure if I have ever eaten Blanc Manger. I’m a big fan of all pudding like desserts - creme brulee, custard, panna cotta - so I was pretty sure I would like Blanc Manger.

The word "blanc" makes me laugh, however, because it is part of a running joke in our family. There is a type of champagne called "Blanc de Blanc" which is pronounced "blonk duh blonk" but my mother insists on pronouncing it "blankety blank." It has something to do with the champagne tasting dinners my grandfather threw during my parents’ engagement to determine which champagne would be served at their wedding. I’m sure no one got drunk during these dinners. Therefore, despite more than six years of French classes, I really want to pronounce Blanc Manger "blankety blank" manger because it’s funny.

Anyway. Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of red fruits and almonds in the TWD recipes, so I used blueberries for my Blanc Manger, copying from Jennifer of KPOW, who brought her mixed fruit Blanc Manger to book club on Sunday night. Next week, I hope to get away from almonds, particularly ground almonds, which proved to be my downfall in this recipe and last week’s recipe.

I didn’t take very many pictures of the process because there was nothing really visually stunning about the process, although the end result was very pretty. You can see the almond chunks that settled to the bottom and then became the top of the dessert.

Of course, after I made it, I read on the TWD that some people used almond flour. I had no idea such a thing existed and I will use that next time, if I can find it locally. With the almond chunks, the texture was like undercooked tapioca. But really good flavor.

I saw this recipe when I first purchased the cookbook and read the description right away to see how difficult it would be to make. I was floored by one of the statements in the description: this dessert is "beloved, particularly, I'm told, by newlyweds with no kitchen experience, because it is positively foolproof." There was something that really bothered me about that notion. I've been thinking about it all week.

I think it raises my feminist flag when I hear that because it relies on the 1950's concept that women marry young, only learn to cook to satisfy their prospective husbands and the husbands' work colleagues and families, and that upon getting married, adults' lives become stereotypical versions of the perfect home life.

Sure, that's probably true of some women who get married in 2009, just like it probably wasn't true of all women who got married in 1954. But the facts are that women (and men) are getting married later and most people who get married have lived on their own for some time before getting married. And most people find themselves in the situation of needing to feed themselves, wanting to feed others and entertain, and needing to know how to make a good dessert (or knowing where to buy one.)

Perhaps this is fueled by that streak of anger I still have about being unmarried and nearly 38. Granted, my life has taken a wonderful turn in the last year and marriage is in my future. But that doesn't immediately erase the 20 years of wondering and worrying if it would ever happen. In those 20 years, I had to grow up and be an adult without getting married. I had to learn how to feed myself on a budget without eating out every night, how to host a party, how to make a kick-ass dessert to bring to an office pot-luck, and how to manage a household on my own.

In all honesty, I had to stock a kitchen with tools without getting everything as bonus prizes off my registery for getting married.

But that's not all of it. Why couldn't it just say that this recipe is beloved by those just learning to cook or those newly discovering baking? Why does it have to play to a stereotype?


Secret Server said...

Beautiful dessert. I will come back to comment on the rest tomorrow. Meanwhile, watch the Monty Python video on Nancy's blog. http://noe847.blogspot.com/ It is very funny.

Secret Server said...

Ooops, I meant for that to link. I also meant to use correct grammar. My initial reaction re sexism, is that maybe most newlyweds, be they men or women or young or middle aged, have little kitchen experience. But maybe I am just being defensive of beloved Dorie, and I do understand your concerns. My brain isn't working well. There is a loud fan in my house.

Avenir labs said...

beautiful. its looks very yummy.

EMERGE said...

I see what you mean about the almonds. It still looks yummy...

Eyebrows McGee said...

When was the cookbook published? Maybe I missed that. One of my favorite cookbooks is the Seventeen Magazine cookbook from the 1960s, which is partly fun for its anachronistic commentary, with chapters like "What to make for the boy who carries your books."

Anyhoo, I didn't learn to cook until after I got married, because I just ate frozen food in boxes until then, but when I got married it occurred to me I probably couldn't do that for the ENTIRE rest of my life. But then, I got married at 24 so I was still in an acceptable frozen-food-in-boxes stage of life. Also my husband was already a demon in the kitchen and did 90% of the cooking.

Ms. PH said...

The book is relatively new, published at least since 2000.

I'm also a fan of old cookbooks, which is why I have 4 different editions of The Joy of Cooking. I have several of my grandmother's old cookbooks, including an entire cookbook devoted to Jello.

I guess I was just shocked that a recent cookbook would make references to such an old stereotype. Granted, I cook much more now that there is another adult to cook for in the house. It was depressing to put a lot of effort into a meal and sit down by myself to eat it (or have two kids refuse to eat it).

I think I was being overly crabby last night when I wrote the post, but it had been something I was thinking about.

Vanilla Bean Counter said...

You can find almond flour at Krogers and Naturally Yours. The brand they carry is Bob's Red Mill; it is kind of pricey. I have had pretty good luck grinding my own in the food processor. I use it regularly in my gluten free baking.

That is a bizarre statement for such a recent cookbook. It makes me cock my head and raise an eyebrow pretty much for the reasons you describe.

Katie said...

I agree with you on the comment in the book. That just seems very out of place.
BTW, I learned to cook after I got divorced. I can't seem to get any of life's little milestones in the right order!

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Ms. PH, I was curious what all the TWDers would say about your post. Nothing?

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