Dining out on dessert

2008-04-10 00:00

The year 1959 was a very good one indeed and I don’t mean for red wine. I mean for people. In 2009, the 59ers will turn 50, including the beloved of my life. And me.

A common topic of conversation among the 59ers is how to celebrate this momentous life event. Thinking back on past celebrations of significant milestones in my life is neither helpful nor encouraging.

My 21st birthday party at university degenerated into a drunken orgy because guests consumed vast quantities of vodka-laced watermelon prepared by one of my less upright housemates. The neighbours called the police to put an end to the commotion. Even though I had long gone to bed, it was my party, so I was held responsible.

My beloved threw a surprise party for my 30th birthday. I don’t do surprises well, being reserved by nature. I found it hard work to socialise with the collection of disparate family and friends. I even look uncomfortable in the photographs.

When I turned 40, I dyed my hair riotous red and organised my own celebrations. The party games (which I love) were going well until several children encountered a “Great Dane land mine” camouflaged under drifts of stirring autumn leaves. At least the photographs (taken before the landmine incident) are pleasant.

We tried to think of something meaningful to mark turning 50. Do a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain? Potential for shared dormitories, cold showers, snoring strangers, blisters and sunburn — maybe not.

Take a group of friends away for a weekend to do volunteer work in a rural area? “You’re not serious?” said the first friend I consulted. “That’s so eighties. We’re over the bleeding heart stage, dear, move on already.”

Don’t have a party but donate the money to charity instead? How much and to which charity? Nah, too much effort.

My beloved is sold on the idea of taking the children to meet the relatives in the home country. It will never be the same again — neither will the relatives or the children, for that matter.

With the help of some women 59ers, I have hit on the perfect answer: dessert. I am struck by the legend that when she was diagnosed with cancer, Jackie Kennedy Onassis immediately went out and ate two helpings of dessert. After years of depriving herself in order to stay fashion-model slim, eating dessert was the first thing she did when she could go easy on herself. Shame. I’m far from anything like the famous Jackie O, but the idea of dessert works for me too.

I plan to celebrate turning 50 by dining out on dessert. Of course such an endeavour requires research, practice and preparation. I’m currently on the lookout for eating establishments that have good dessert buffets. The kind that have everything: old-fashioned hot puddings and trifle, dinky pastries, milk and cream-based desserts, fruit sweets and fantastical sugary creations. I want them all, even if I choose not to eat them all. Anticipation is often more enjoyable than consummation.

So, if you know of any good dessert venues, let me know.

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