Monday, August 23, 2010

An Army base Food Review (and the magic of chocolate pudding)

What is it about a well-made cold chocolate pudding that can deconstruct the woes of the day?

The dining facilities here may have a varied selection of foods, but they all have something that throws me off. The main courses are heavy and over-seasoned. The side lines all contain greasy foods; even the sandwich bar is undesirable. The meats look odd and the breads are always stale. And although the dessert selection may contain a variety of cakes, pies, and ice cream, they all seem off-putting. Everything either looks or tastes unfamiliar. Like a copy of a copy, retaining the main properties of the aforementioned foods, but without the secret ingredient. Even the fruits are unripened, ruined by the thousands of miles of frozen or refrigerated travel.

But the pudding…oh, the chocolate pudding!

With its smooth, creamy texture, the perfect dose of cocoa powder and real whole milk. The perfect amount of sweetness, the perfect texture, the perfect chocolate pudding. Eating, no, enjoying this pudding brings me back to my grandma’s kitchen. The smells, oh, the way her whisk beat any idea of lumps out of that combination of cocoa, milk, sugar and eggs. And the way the final product was poured into her signature crust. And how the chocolate pudding always tasted better off the whisk or the wooden spoon.

So despite the over-salted and dry pot roast, the soup-sandwich pizza, the stale bread, the mashed potatoes with the potato flakes still dry in them, the over-cooked vegetables, the undercooked rice, the tart peaches, and the incredibly undesirable wheat “tortillas,” there’s still chocolate pudding.

And that makes it okay.