I’d have been perfectly happy with a chocolate chip cookie or two. But I knew that’s not all there would be for dessert at my mother-in-law’s Labor Day picnic. Rather, there would be an entire dessert table, filled with many tasty dessert choices, including cookies, raspberry cake squares, angel food cake, strawberries and banana chocolate chip cake, most of it homemade.
Nearly eighteen years into my marriage, I am still taken aback by my in-laws’ dessert table. See, my family has no such thing. At our family get-togethers, there’s generally just one dessert, at most two, and if you don’t like them, tough darts. Or, as my husband describes it, “Here’s your cookie. Now go home.”
At my in-laws’ house, however, dessert is an event. I suspect this is because my in-laws grew up poor in Hungary and Germany, so an abundance of food is a sign that all is well. It’s their way of saying, “Look! We can provide. Have another piece of cake…the Russians are coming!” Or something like that.
While my mother-in-law makes a dozen different types of cookies at Christmastime, my family simply makes my grandmother’s Depression-era butter cookies. It never occurred to us to branch out to, say, oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies. I guess it’s our way of saying, “What? This isn’t good enough for you? Perhaps you should save that cookie for a rainy day.” Or something like that.
And yet, my mother-in-law’s Labor Day spread pales in comparison to the Battle of the Desserts I once witnessed at my husband’s cousin’s house. The Hungarian side of the family appeared to be competing with the Italian side at a communion celebration that involved so many desserts, there were two dessert tables filled with a wide array of sugary selections. It looked like a cross between a Martha Stewart Living magazine cover and The Food Network’s “Last Cake Standing.” I was afraid to go near it.
At my mother-in-law’s Labor Day picnic, I had some strawberries and a piece of raspberry cake. Then I also had a chocolate chip cookie. See? It took me eighteen years, but I’ve finally warmed up to the dessert table and all of its many choices.
Now go home.