I don’t remember pudding ever being a regular part of meals when I was a child. In fact I can still recall the excitement I felt when I was offered a pot of Ski yoghurt (black cherry, I believe) at a friend’s house, which suggests that, apart from the occasional apple crumble after Sunday lunch and lumpy custard at school, pudding was something of a treat. And as such, it was never more delicious than when it came in the form of leftovers, which my sisters and I would eat for breakfast, the morning after my parents had given a dinner party: brown bread ice cream and pears poached in red wine were particular favourites. All very 70s. My parents had friends over quite regularly, so we were not exactly deprived on the pudding-front, but it meant that, for me, pudding has never established itself as an essential part of weekday meals – unless we have friends over.
But for some reason the girls regard pudding as the natural full stop at the end of both lunch and supper. I don’t know how this has come about. Halfway through every meal, and sometimes at the start if they are particularly unhappy with what I have made, they will enquire about pudding. It is a means of assessing whether or not it’s worth their while struggling on.
Matilda is thirteen in June, and you would have thought that in all that time one of us might have accepted defeat on the pudding issue. But my children are eternal optimists, ever hopeful that a week’s supply of ice cream or moussey-spongy-custardy things will work their way onto the regular shopping list. I, for my part, am clearly a slow learner: I fail to factor pudding into any of my meal plans for the week ahead – that’s if I manage to plan at all. Pudding proper does happen from time to time, but more by accident than design – a slice of cake, say, that I’ve made as a tea time treat.
Fortunately, all three girls have an elastic understanding of pudding. Last week’s pudding selection included Shreddies and Rich Tea biscuits with a glass of milk. But they are all clear about one thing: fruit is not pudding. I find this strange, and frustrating, as all three love fruit. But apparently fruit is a snack not a pudding, and for one of them to eat a clementine at the end of a meal is a display of real, and rare, hunger.
Anyway, a couple of nights ago I was totally stuck. We were all out of cereal, we had no yoghurt, the freezer was almost empty, and the fruit bowl contained only blackened bananas and dried up clementines. I wasn’t too troubled – they’d just had a delicious roast chicken and had mopped up gravy with slabs of bread.
I was about to remind them of this, when I spotted a couple of pomegranates lurking, half-hidden, on the kitchen worktop. Now pomegranates are only occasional visitors to the kitchen, and certainly not part of the gently rotting still life that constitutes our fruit bowl, so, although undeniably fruit, pomegranates have novelty on their side, added to which they look beautiful and taste delicious. They passed the test.