It’s the “most wonderful time of the year” again. The time of year when I get asked cooking questions all the time. Cooking questions fall under the category of small talk. Most of the year I don’t worry too much about small talk. I’ve come to expect it at the dentist’s office or the doggie park – where if you’re comfortable talking about flossing schedules and poop size you’ll be just fine. But the holidays are different so you need to be prepared for a more intimate kind of small talk. I’m talking about holiday party small talk. The desperate attempt we all make to find something in common with a person whose name you’ve completely forgotten.
This is not meant to be a dig against the person you’re talking to. They’ve probably forgotten your name too. It’s just a symptom of the season. Because every year we all get invited to the kind of party where we barely know the host and will certainly never see her co-workers ever again. I’ve decided to prepare myself for the inevitable common ground cooking questions that populate the conversations at these events. The most common of these questions are about dessert. This year I plan to answer “fruit crisp” to any and all queries that come my way.
It’s ripe territory. (Get it? Puns work well in small talk situations.)
Anyway, once I get the “ripe” joke out of the way. I’ll purposely say something controversial about fruit crisp. Something to really stir the pot. (Get it?) Something like, “a fruit crisp is not the same thing as a fruit cobbler.”
If I see them raise their eyebrows in disbelief, I’ll say definitively that a fruit cobbler is made with a sweetened biscuit or cookie dough and that a fruit crisp always has a crumbly streusel-like topping where oats are optional.
I admit I’ll just be making this bold statement to garner a reaction. I often make a cookie-topped baked fruit dish (without oats) that I call a fruit crisp because the topping stays crisp. However, when it comes to small talk (and blog talk for that matter), definitive statements and superlative-laden descriptions work best. There’s plenty of room for definitive statements and superlative-laden descriptions when talking about fruit crisps. So I’ll make several resolute declarations which I can cater on the spot to my captive audience of one.
Then just as they try to slink off to refill their glass, go to the bathroom, or in extreme cases get their coats and run. I’ll shock them into silence and tell them a fruit crisp is dunce-cap simple. You don’t even need a recipe. Though I just happen to have one with me. GREG