He pulls a face.
“Ugh!”, he says.
I think: Oh fuck, he doesn’t like it. Oh well, I’ve done it now. Perhaps it’s the hazelnuts? Or the meringue? Or the combination?
I’d just thanked him. He’d been to the supermarket and brought back some raspberries. He knows they’re my favourite fruit. I’d said, enthusiastically, “Oh, great! They’ll be perfect to go with the sweet.” Which they would be. After all, fruit and nuts go together well. And raspberries and hazelnuts would be a perfect combination.
However, of course, I wasn’t thinking. He didn’t know I had picked this dessert. He had assumed it would be something along the lines of what I had mentioned before. And I had forgotten that I had mentioned something else.
So the response of “Ugh!” came from him asking me what I was doing and me replying, Hazelnut Meringue.
Now, I’ve absolutely no idea what he thought Hazelnut Meringue actually was. But, he didn’t like the “sound” of it. Apparently.
We were doing dinner for a couple. In fact, she was my first landlady in Milan, when V and I came for 3 months to check it out, to see if we really wanted to come and live here and to find a flat to live in. Since then, we’ve kept in touch because she’s really lovely. Well, she really isn’t Italian, in many ways. She had several different types of job and keeps trying new things – radical changes to her life. The latest is that she’s set up a business in Australia. And she’s back for a couple of weeks so, as Saturday was almost the only day we could do it, we opted for dinner chez nous.
I had asked her if there was anything they didn’t eat and she said she was intolerant to gluten (Coeliac) but that one night wouldn’t matter. However, if someone tells you they have problems with a particular thing, you have to do your best to accommodate, don’t you? And so, we had to really think about what we were going to do. Out went all pies/cakes and things like that.
We decided the main would be the salmon and courgette fish cakes that I had in the freezer. So the first course was going to be F’s chickpea soup with fried prawns, I would do the fishcakes with some buttered carrots and fennel and then we needed a sweet. I had said, that morning, that I would probably do something with chocolate. But, then, F had to pop to the shop to change his password and, whilst he was away, I suddenly remembered the hazelnut meringue that I hadn’t made for over 30 years. I had the recipe from the time when I went to night school and took a Cordon Bleu cookery course. I had no idea if it would work OK or not but I had, for some time now, wanted to re-try it.
So that’s what I told him when he came back with the raspberries and that’s when I got the disappointment of him not liking it.
Except, I should (and, for that matter, he should too) know better. He didn’t like the sound of it but, really, he had absolutely no idea what it was.
I made the two layers of the hazelnut meringue which were to be sandwiched together with whipped cream with a little coffee flavour and then to be decorated with whipped cream, hazelnuts and, now, a few raspberries.
I cooked the meringue. Unfortunately, I didn’t have two good size baking trays and so, for one of the layers, I used a roasting tin. I was worried about it turning out OK given that it had deep sides but I needn’t have worried. The cooking of it wasn’t the problem. the problem was the “getting it out of the tin in one piece” on which I failed comprehensively. So, there, cooling, was a perfect layer and a layer that was more representative of a jigsaw puzzle. However, I knew I could put that as the base and “put it together” so that it wouldn’t really be noticed.
F suggested that, instead of trying to put the base together, I should just crumble it on top of the other one. It was, in fact, either something like a meringata or a brutti ma buoni. Apparently. So he said.
But I was curious as to his sudden interest in it.
“Have you tried it?” I asked, slightly accusingly. And, yes, he had. And, yes he liked it. In fact, he loved it. And this is not the first time, of course. I stopped him “picking” at the broken one, which is what he was doing.
So, I have to remember, next time he pulls a face or says he doesn’t like something, to say that he should trust me and remind him of fruit crumble (another occasion where he had said he “hated” it …… until he tried it) and hazelnut meringue.
In the meantime, here are some photos:
Hazelnut Meringue (sadly, NOT how mine looked although it still looked quite good):
NOT my hazelnut meringue, sadly
Meringata – a bit like hazelnut meringue – without the hazelnuts
Brutti ma buoni:
Brutti ma buoni – a smaller version of hazelnut meringue