Pretty much every year something unexpected happens around the Christmas dessert.
Once it was when I made the pavlova on Christmas Day - the actual day - and it was this flat, rubbery, actually pretty inedible thing.
Another was when the fam decided to have apple crumble for Christmas dessert - no pavlova, no fruit Christmas pud, nothing remotely Christmassy - and it was really average in the end cos I'm not that good at cooking but am quite happy to do cooking stuff, although the one time I did a Nigella impression was not met with approval.
This year much discussion had gone into what we were going to have. We are a democracy after all. I do what the fam
So it was decided we were going to have brownies. I was a bit perturbed by this when the suggestion was first mooted. Brownies? For Christmas pudding?
Ah, yes. But not just any brownies. They had to be extravagant brownies. Ones with chocolate oozing from them.
You mean like those lava cakes from Dominos? I said.
There was a blank stare as if to say, what? What?
But I'd got the jist. We also decided they could be served with custard and cream.
I'm not sure this is - you know - the done thing. But we're basic people.
So Christmas day arrived. and the day proceeded. We forgot to open the presents until after dinner, that's how
We had dinner, and can I just say that googling how to do the perfect crackling was a good move? That stuff was brilliant. I spent five minutes telling my sister in Oz, when she phoned that night, how amazing
And so its an hour later, and I'm looking in the cupboard cos its time to make the extravaganza brownies oozing in chocolate lava-like goodness. I find the chocolate, the vanilla. And I look for the flour.
But I can't see it.
I search again. But there is none.
Correction. There is a bag with a few tablespoons of white flour in it, and there is the bag of organic wholegrain stuff from the Manawatu that we use for organic wholegrain bread cos we are in the process of becoming those kind of people, the people I have spent my life despising. Do you know, that there are times I even buy non-instant coffee?
I have no idea who I am these days, and I have to reign myself in and have a tomato sauce sandwich and and listen to the Rolling Stones to remind myself what I stand for. Its not hard.
But back to the pantry.
There is no flour.
No freaking flour.
How can this possibly be?
There's no flour, I announce to the offspring. I need flour to make the brownie extravaganza and there is none.
What the fuck, one of them proclaims.
I don't disagree.
Fuck, I say.
Its freaking Christmas Day and there is no fricking flour and thus no christmas pudding.
There's not even any canned fruit or ice-cream.
I mean .... WHO DOES THAT?
I am racking my brain. I search everywhere. There has to be flour. There was flour there, like, two days ago...
And there it is. What happened to the flour.
It comes rolling back to me with blinding clarity.
The Christmas Eve pizza bases.
The fruit mince pastry things the vegan made yesterday. Half the dough, I might add is sitting there in the fridge and that's no use.
Christmas has been ruined.
I mean, sure, the crackling was totally and completely, a thousand percent bloody amazing and I would seriously have WON the competition with that stuff, but that's all gone, and I'll never be able to replicate that degree of culinary mastery ever again, and now its time for dessert. And there is none.
I am from fine Kiwi breeding stock, so I figure, we can do this. We can figure out how to fix this Christmas day dessert disaster.
We need an alternative, I announce, after I've sworn a bit more. It's moments like these you need to spy on the neighbour so when he goes outside for a fag, you can go over and bludge one off him.
So we run through what there is actually available.
And you know? HARDLY ANYTHING.
This is looking to be really serious now.
One of the boys, bless him, says he has a recipe for some coconut chocolate things and maybe we could try that. So he gets the recipe and yes, praise be, we have everything.
We have icing sugar. We have coconut. We have vanilla. We have coconut cream. He has coconut oil. And of course we have chocolate, tons of chocolate, chocolate intended for the brownie extravaganza.
So we make this coconut thing and as I'm mixing it up, I taste it, and, oh my gosh.
This tastes like - like a bounty bar!
So we leave this divine coconut mixture to set, and when that has occurred,
My good people.
These things were almost better than bounty bars and bounty bars, let's face it, are up there with liquorice allsorts. They're pretty amazing.
And it hits me.
I HAVE JUST MADE THE MOST AMAZING THING EVER.
So we whipped the cream and I made the custard (cos that was the plan, you remember, the accoutrement to go with the brownie extravaganza).
These morsels of goodness were very rich and to be fair, I may be overstating the wonder of it because I was informed that it still wasn't the same as a real Christmas pud, cos we never did get to have the brownie chocolate extravaganza.
But it was not, in my opinion, the disaster of the rubbery pavolova or the boring-as apple crumble of days of Noel yore.
As an aside we are people who, if someone says "Guess where this bottle of wine came from?" we guess.
We used to play the "Guess all the states of the USA" game which is the best fun. No one ever gets them all. A few months back I suggested we play it.
It was met with a surprisingly firm and quite unnecessary (I thought) "No."
So we do a guessing game.
We're there with our wine - sorry, Pam's grape juice - and the question was raised. Guess where this came from? Marketed in New Zealand but made elsewhere. So we start with the usual guesses. China. Small nations of the Pacific. Madagascar. Mexico. The Maldives.
We progress further west, or east (depending) to Malta. Germany. Russia. Countries that don't exist any more.
Countries that maybe never existed.
This is vexing.
Then we get a clue: It doesn't have its own language.
Paris, I shriek.
(I never actually said that. I know Paris is a country that has its own language.)
And then someone, clearly not me, gets it.
The answer is ...
The Pam's grape juice came from Belgium.
And thus ended the latest Christmas dessert disaster.