This week I've had a rather nasty sore throat. I've been craving hot oatmeal, scrambled eggs, herb teas - anything hot that will slide on down soothingly. So, for the first time ever, I bought a can of Indian pudding.
My sole experience with Indian pudding came when i was around nine or ten. My family had gone to Durgin Park for dinner, so it must have been some sort of important occasion. Not that Durgin Park is particularly fancy, just that there were four children in my family, so restaurants with non-plastic utensils were reserved for events.
For those of you who don't know, Durgin Park is an old New England institution, renowned for its rude waitresses and its Yankee specialities like clam chowder and Indian pudding.
I was the sort of child who considered everything old-fashioned to be vaguely romantic, so I ordered Indian pudding for dessert. My mother warned me that I might not like it, but I was convinced it had to be good - how bad could dessert be? And it was some sort of pudding, for Pete's sake! Oh, how wrong I was.
Indian pudding is cornmeal mush flavored with molasses and gingerbread spices. I had basically ordered polenta for dessert, and my young suburban tastebuds were in no way prepared for that concept. I was horrified and barely touched my pudding.
I figured enough years had passed that I might have come around on the Indian pudding thing, and I was right. I can't imagine eating it cold, but warmed up, with a little cold cream poured over, it was a nice treat. It was also locally-made, though I doubt that any of the ingredients were locally-grown. All of the ingredients were also recognizable as food - essentially cornmeal, molasses, spices, milk - which is always a plus.