Danish Pastry

Danish pastry: (n) a light, rich, flaky pastry, often filled with cheese, nuts and raisins, custard, or fruit.

Back when I first started traveling—when it was still hilarious to make fun of disco—the motel industry was a much different collaboration–collaboration in the sense that those who rented out rooms to strangers were well-known for joining together and agreeing on prices, perks and general hospitality approach.

So after years and years of leaving it up to the customer to find some sort of breakfast the morning after sleeping in the lodge, it occurred to one of these inn-keepers that it might be nice to offer a breakfast of some sort.

Yet this innovator, and his brothers and sisters to follow, were quite intimidated at the notion of giving away something free to the consumer, just to appear hospitable in a hospitality industry.

So the general fare became hot, anemic coffee and cellophane wrapped Danishes.

Often, they had an employee posted next to the Danish, to make sure nobody took more than one.

It was an improvement.

I developed a taste for each one of these pastries. I will give you my favorites, in an ascending order:

5. Berry Danish (just a little too tart)

4. Prune Danish (if you could wrap your mind around the idea of prunes)

3. Strawberry Danish (not nearly as tart as the berry—and more pleasing, like jelly)

2. Cinnamon Danish (if warmed it just right in a microwave, it was like being a kid again, chomping on cinnamon toast)

1. And Number One, by far—Cheese Danish. (Especially when all the corners are nibbled, and you’re down to the middle section, which was all cheesy-sweet and caloric)

Each establishment felt it was generous to offer the Danish and coffee. Some even tipped their prices upward to cover the cost.

At one stop, I commented to the boss-man that “in no time at all, they would have to improve from Danish and coffee, to a full menu of breakfast items.”

He laughed at me. His response?

“No one’s going to do that. It’s too expensive, and we’d go bankrupt.”

Move ahead about a decade, and now there are very few friendly motels that don’t at least offer you an egg patty and a sausage link.

Here’s something to always remember:

You will never go bankrupt offering food to people.

They will remember, they will pick you again and they will comment on how nice you were to provide them grits and gravy.

 

Custard Pie

Custard pie: (n) a pie made with custard

Some time ago, back when the only thing open in the middle of the night on a freeway was a truck stop, I was traveling—so sleepy that I decided I should stop at one of these establishments with my friends and get something to eat.

We were in the middle of Dixie.

Apparently had not received the notification that the Civil War had ended—because when we walked in with our long hair—a bit grimy and road-weary—the whole place fell silent.

Just in case you do not understand my meaning, this profile was not selected out of respect, but rather, to communicate shock at seeing “a bunch of hippies,” as they would have called us, stroll into the restaurant.

When I have encountered this kind of prejudice, I’ve always found that the best choice is to stay positive, don’t frown back at them, and keep your conversation within your group. Pretty soon, everybody is eager to get back to their own grits and corn beef hash.

This night was no different.

Except all I really wanted to have was just a piece of pie.

When I think of pie, I have visions of blueberry, cherry, maybe apple—but none of these were available because it was the middle of the night at a truck stop, when most people have turned off all their pie-eating instincts.

The waitress explained that all they had left was “custard pie,” which she said remained because “nobody ever orders it.”

I did. I wanted a piece of pie.

It came, and it was a rather feckless confection—a creamy, white color with just a bit of cinnamon dancing on the top.

I ate it and I loved it.

I treasured it so much that for the next several weeks, I ordered custard pie everywhere I went.

I bought one at a store. It was delicious. Some of these pies were not as good as others, but such is the travail of life. But overall, they had that gentle custard taste, with a hint of vanilla and great sweetness.

I was so enamored with custard pie, I decided to study up on how to make one for myself. I got all the ingredients, put them together, did everything according to the recipe, and ended up with a pie pan that never became solid. It still tasted all right, but it was runny.

I was so disappointed.

I never made nor did I really ever eat custard pie again.

Perhaps that’s a formula for life I should consider.

If I have a vice or if I know of a vice, if I try to do it myself and end up doing it poorly, maybe it will cure me of desiring the vice.

 

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Batch

Batch: (n) a quantity or consignment of goods produced at one time.Dictionary B

Christmas cookies.

They are delightful–and unfortunately, limited to one season instead of being sprinkled throughout the calendar.

We happened upon a great recipe for such a batch of treats which was so simple to put together, but so delicious, that we often made them in huge quantities.

All that was required were corn flakes, marshmallows, butter, green food coloring and red cinnamon candies to simulate holly.

The first batch of these delicacies were so moist, chewy and delicious that we quickly decided to make a second and then a third.

About a week later, I got a hankering for more of these sweet treats, so I opened up the cupboard. I discovered we had plenty of corn flakes, not so many marshmallows, and just a little bit of butter. We had lots of green food coloring and cinnamon candies.

I thought to myself, what difference would it really make? After all, what is a marshmallow, or a teaspoon of butter here or there?

So I stirred up the mixture, and immediately realized that this particular batch seemed stiffer. I didn’t think much about it.

I put them on the cookie sheet to set for a few minutes. When I returned, I discovered that my Yuletide yummies were as hard as rocks.

But I persisted. Honestly, I nearly broke a tooth trying to bite into one.

I was angry. Or was I disappointed? I’m not sure–but somewhere suspended between those two emotions, I lamented that my new batch had failed to fulfill my taste buds.

Someone mentioned the fact that I had altered the recipe, thus tainting this particular batch, but I pooh-poohed that idea, saying, “It should still have worked.”

I have since recanted such foolishness. I am now fully aware that if you want to make a good batch of anything … you’ve got to follow the recipe.

 

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix

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