The other day I saw Pixie Geldof in a television interview; she was promoting her new album. Pixie’s sister, Peaches, recently died in a drug overdose at age 25. Pixie’s mother also died of a drug overdose when Pixie was a child. This manner of death can lead to what the literature terms ‘complicated grief’. It’s traumatic. It’s sudden, unexpected, tragic, violent, sensationalist, and stigmatised. As is suicide.
In these two incidents alone Pixie Geldof has endured more tragedy than many. In her interview she tries to articulate the impact her art has on her ability to cope with these tragedies. What she said resonated with me.
‘I think it’s good to get it out… but you can never get it out’
She could be saying that what you have inside you following such tragedy can never be truly expressed. However much she tries to in her songs, or I try to in my blog, the experience cannot be translated into words or sounds or colours or shapes. People will never really understand, unless they have suffered the same experience.
Or she could be saying that the tornado of emotions that surge around your body following such a tragedy can never be eliminated. In expressing them you are not releasing them, or diluting their intensity, you are simply holding a mirror up to yourself. You are explaining, you are not letting go or moving on. Holding a mirror up is helpful because it enables you to process the experience, to own it and face it rather than running from it or hiding from it. And explaining is helpful in itself; after all, we all yearn to be understood. But holding a mirror up doesn’t make the experience any easier, and it doesn’t make the experience pass any quicker. So however much you try to get it out, and however helpful you find that, you never will be able to get it out. The worth is in the process rather than the end result.
The Cooking – Tiramisu
I fancied cooking a Tiramisu for my Uncles and Grandparents coming to dinner a few Sundays ago. I’m not sure I’ve ever really enjoyed a tiramisu – I remember eating it as a child before I liked coffee and I don’t think I’ve eaten it since. Sometimes, however, I get an idea in my head and I just fancy something. I get this all the time with brie – brie always looks so tempting despite me knowing that I despise the taste. Anyway, the tiramisu appealed on the basis of it being creamy. Also, I want to tick off a few classics through the writing of this blog.
I used a Mary Berry recipe (from Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook) which uses brandy instead of masala. It’s a really easy recipe but I was filled with doubt throughout the entire process. Mary Berry’s recipe seems to be targeted at people who know a little bit more about cooking than me, and I was left to resort to anxious guess work!
The first task was to whisk together the eggs and caster sugar. That’s fine, but for how long? What does the mixture need to look like? How thick and creamy? A photo would have been helpful. It took a lot longer to thicken up than I anticipated, so I was worried I’d made a mistake of some sort. I went back to check the recipe a few times. My tip to you: hold on in there, it does happen!
This then got folded into mascarpone cheese. Now again, I could have done with more information here! I know from my Great British Bake Off viewing that it can be important for a mixture to get minimal contact, in order that the air bubbles remain intact. On the other hand, how important is it for all the lumps of mascarpone to be dispersed? If I need to get rid of all the lumps then I need to mix it a lot, but if I want to maintain the air bubbles I don’t want to mix it too much at all. I settled for a very slow folding motion which I continued until all the lumps appeared to have gone, which was an inordinately long time to be stood mixing.
The rest of the process involves soaking the trifle sponges (ready-made, I admit) in the brandy and coffee mixture, and layering the different elements. The only other thing worth noting is that grating chocolate is not an easy thing to do. Chocolate flecks were left sprinkled over the entire kitchen worktop and much of the floor. The cleaner cooks amongst you may prefer to wear gloves (see photo of hand).
The tiramisu was very much enjoyed by our guests. If you like cream you will love this. It’s not a sweet dessert, but it is deliciously chocolatey, with a great kick of alcohol. One Uncle did comment that I was trying to kill him (he is diabetic), but another said the pudding rivalled the tiramisu he had eaten in Italy. It all disappeared so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to photograph the finished article! I loved it, and I’m adding it to my list of dinner party puddings! Okay, the list didn’t really exist before now – but now it does! And there’s at least one delicious item on there.