Wednesday, January 25, 2006

the pavlova incident

Sometime in 2004 – I forget exactly when – my next-door-neighbour, DM (also an Australian) threw a bring-a-dish-representative-of-your-own-country dinner. She asked me to make a pavlova, a request to which I readily agreed.

I duly went shopping for the required ingredients, compromising only on castor sugar – this is very hard to find in the Philippines, so I opted for regular white sugar. I don’t think this actually influenced what unfolded, but it seems worth mentioning.

Things went wrong from the beginning. I couldn’t, for the life of me, beat the egg whites into anything near the stiffness required for a pav. As I continued to beat, flecks of egg white gathered on the walls and table of the dining area (where I was working) until, eventually, it looked like a scene from a Christmas snowdome.

D (girlfriend D, not next-door-neighbour DM), who was watching me become increasingly agitated, suggested that maybe it would be OK and that I put what I had onto a tray, anyway. It was a perfectly reasonable idea and she was in no way to blame for what happened next. And although I was the perpetrator, I myself had no clue to what was about to unfold.

As I poured out the “meringue” (which, of course, by definition should not be able to be poured), I realised the futility and, in so doing, slowly raised the bowl (melo)dramatically heavenward, such that the mixture fell down, down onto my head and dribbled onwards over my face, down my neck, and onto my torso.

Despite her justifiable shock, D guided me to a shower, made me remove my clothes and positioned me under the water. I slid down the wall on my haunches until my bottom was on the floor. I brought my knees tight up to my chest and sat there for several long, silent minutes in mute torpor.

It was not, in hindsight, one of my most dignified moments. Although, in the context of previous tantrums, it did represent either a nadir or a zenith, depending on one's point of view.

Heroically, D went down the street to get some more eggs, returned, sent me to my room, and produced a perfect pavlova that was devoured by the dinner guests.

Using alcohol to wash away the deep psychological pain, I got drunk enough to attempt some breakdancing.

I haven’t attempted a pavlova since.


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