There are times when it is good to have a logistical plan in place. This is what I thought as I sat on the bus, holding my breath while trying to steady the box on my lap. Yes, there are times when it is good to have a logistical plan in place. Or possibly a cake tin.
I had agreed to make dessert. One of the easiest yet most impressive recipes I know is peach cobbler. I wasn’t actually able to make peach cobbler, because there weren’t any peaches in the shop. So instead I made passion fruit and physalis cobbler. The smell of the fruit and spices suffused my whole house.
But that’s not the point. The point is that cobbler by its very nature remains gooey after it’s cooked. Also my specific cobbler recipe makes just a little too much for my baking tin, so it’s always completely full up to the brim when I make it. Basically it’s a big mess waiting to happen, which I forget every single time I make it because cobbler is not a regular enough occurrence in my life.
As a big mess waiting to happen, this was a very bad dessert choice for something that had to get transported on a bus. What I needed was a large enough plastic container to seal up the gooey fruity mess under the baked topping. Failing that, I needed some sort of contraption that would remain perfectly level at all times, like that platform Elizabeth Taylor stood on in Cleopatra when she gets carried down off the giant Sphinx to meet Caesar in Rome. I did not, however, have anything like this.
What I did have was a large cardboard box and a plastic bag. It was this makeshift container that I was trying to steady on my lap as we rounded corners and ascended hills across London. As you can imagine, it was not a perfect system. In fact before I even got on the bus quite a bit of sweet, cinnamon-y liquid had wended its way out of the box and over my hands and my dress. I boarded the bus trying to look nonchalant, as if to say, “There is absolutely no leaking cobbler in this cardboard box at all.” While we proceeded I sat with trepidation, waiting for a flood of passion fruit to burst the banks of my sturdy cardboard box and leave me and possibly all those in my immediate surroundings sopping in cobbler.
The man in the seat next to me eyed me with a mixture of suspicion and resignation as I obsessively checked for leaks every time we rounded a corner. Unfortunately it was a very full bus and it was some time before my nervous seat-mate was able to relocate to a less precarious spot. And as soon as he left, an unsuspecting young girl sat down, remaining on her phone for the whole journey declaiming how she didn’t want to go to the kebab shop.
Visions of me having to leave the bus in disgrace, covered in cobbler and far from home, danced in my head. I channeled spirit levels and tried to think even-keeled thoughts. I pictured flatness with every fibre of my imagination.
Eventually my cobbler and I arrived, scathed only in the most minimal degree, at a warm friendly house where dinner and a large glass of wine were waiting. A pleasant evening was had by all–and by all accounts the extended cobbler-based angst was worth it. (I will, however, be purchasing a cake tin.)