When thinking about our prompt of “Berries,” my mind went to strawberries, but more specifically strawberry shortcake, which was the triumphant signal that summer had arrived. Like many foods, strawberries aren’t actually berries in the botanical sense, and many things with berry in their name aren’t really that at all. But this isn’t a story about botanical classifications, thankfully, and instead about whipped cream. Just kidding, it’s about fresh strawberries topped with whipped cream over a bit of sponge cake. I actually had a bite of a version of this during a lunch meeting today, but it was super fancy. It tasted delicious, but was nothing like the kind I had as a kid. That kind involved a store-bought sponge cake and a tub of Cool Whip. The only thing produced by nature were the fresh strawberries. It was delicious! And since it was simply an assemblage and required no actual cooking done this way, it was something I could make myself. When you’re a little kid, making something yourself is the coolest thing in the world. It’s any wonder that it took me over 20 years to start making and coloring my own sketches. Sometimes, adults forget things, but that kid inside will always remember.
There’s little chance that I’ll be able to experience that store-bought spongecake again. I pointed them out to Philippe and he scrunched up his nose so much I thought it might fall off. There were true shortcakes at Trader Joe’s this past weekend that received a better reaction from him, but not one that included the familiar nod that allowed me to add it to the shopping bag. In truth, it means, as ever, that Philippe would prefer to make everything from scratch. I would adore that, but it often fails to happen. I felt lucky to get waffle cones in a box this past weekend for the ice cream I did personally make from scratch. A no-cook family recipe, and the only dessert I know how to make properly because the only real skill involved is roughly measuring ingredients. There was a contraption that Philippe was eyeing to make his own waffle bowls, but he never actually bought it. I can’t blame him, as one has to consider how many waffle bowls they might actually require in a year to justify such a single-use appliance. I tried to fight for it saying that if I homemade ice cream year-round it would definitely justify the purchase. He just smiled again as one does to a pet.
I have to admit that being an American kid, I have very different food memories than Philippe. I adore tasting his childhood memories as they taste like high-end cuisine to me. A bit like taking a vacation without leaving home. It’s because everything was made from scratch and even the store-bought items weren’t quite so transformed. Conversely, it’s not really the same when he goes to taste my own childhood treats. Much of the time, he politely passes on the opportunity. In retrospect, I can’t blame him, as saying, “you just need three boxes to make it!” isn’t a compelling advertisement to someone raised on actual food. But despite the suspect nutritional value of my youth, I adore the memories of the food I had back then. Not even the flavor or texture or any of the things that apply to fine cuisine. It’s just the memory of being with the people I love most and the food simply became an enabler. A chance to come together in the hottest months of the year and celebrate a single natural ingredient while happily enjoying those fresh treats of summer.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Nickel Azo Yellow, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Terra Cotta and Cobalt Blue. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!