Puddings, puddings, puddings
The time flew by as we paced ourselves, clearing our palettes with water sipped between puddings. Tinky or another of her Festival volunteers frequently opened our closed door to see if we needed anything, then, as the time went on, to see if we had, ahem, come to any conclusions. But we had fourteen more puddings to go! It was the essence of too much of a good thing. No time to flag — the Festival awaited our decisions.
Outside our chambers, the townfolk were enjoying a big meal of ham and beans and fried potatoes. We could hear the din of their merriment. When we were finished, there would be the Great Pudding Parade and then the Award Ceremony. We toiled on, tasting, deliberating, straining to discern the spices within, whether this was homemade cake or Duncan Hines, what on earth this texture was. Is that coconut? Good heavens, do I taste bacon?? And so on.
It had all sounded like fun when I was invited but it was turning into a monumental task. Daunting, in fact. Finally, we had our list — best presentation, spookiest (it was Halloween, after all), best pumpkin pudding, most original, fifteen prizes in all, and, for the best all around, the Pudding Head Award. We consulted our pudding-stained notepads.
After three hours of deliberation, the judges were ready. The three of us had no trouble deciding that the Pumpkin Gingerbread Pudding was the best pudding, hands down. “I could eat a lot of that,” Michaelangelo had declared lustily and Kathleen and I said we sure could too. We almost did. Just the thought of it now makes me hungry.
It was much harder to decide about all the others. We opened the door and exited our chamber. The cooks entered to retrieve their creations and then lined up, proudly bearing their puddings, some holding them aloft, and marched them into the sanctuary of the church, down the aisle and up to the altar, where a large table had been set up to display the puddings vying for a prize.
A skit, songs, laughter, the cozy feeling of a town that holds together and finally, the awarding of the prizes and the crowning of the Pudding Head — it all flowed as the three of us sat in the back holding our heads and our stomachs, starting into recovery from Pudding Overdose.
After the awards had been announced and the prizes bestowed(a food processor from Cuisinart, a baking set from Calphalon), the townspeople came forward for the ritual sampling of the puddings. Everyone eagerly lined up in the aisle to go forward to the altar and partake of the Exalted Puddings. They helped themselves, so many to choose from, and returned to their pews with their plates. A very special kind of communion on a rainy fall day in the Berkshires.