Poetry Thursday #9:
Beautiful dreamer, out on the sea,Mermaids are chaunting the wild lorelie;Over the streamlet vapors are borne,Waiting to fade at the bright coming morn.
Extract of Beautiful Dreamer, Stephen Foster
Sometimes friendships begin in the unlikeliest of places. Like the bottom of the sea. No, I'm not alluding to the Mermaid Underwater Alliance nor to witty, talkative fish adorably nicked Nemo and Dory. I'm referring to diving buddies, mine in particular. When I decided to take up scuba diving a few years ago, I had just celebrated a milestone birthday. Not exactly an age to be taking up any sport of that (risky, foolhardy, wondrous) kind, but then one can't dictate when one is ever ready to do anything in this life - you just know when you've reached that point that you are, well, ready.
On my first diving trip out to sea, I was paired with a guy who I wasn't exactly enamored with. Worse, he was a colleague, and even worse than worse, he was a techie. The department I was in was creative, funky, colorful and LOUD, while the tech people just seemed stealth-like, reserved and well, staid. I hadn't gotten along very well with them. Other than the fact that I had nothing in common with anyone on the technical team, they often ignored and sniggered at my trouble-shooting pleas! So seeing that my first dive buddy, whose task was to look out for my well-being while we were underwater (and vice-versa), was from the 'nemesis' camp, it gave me a baaaad, sinking feeling. If he'd wanted revenge, that was the time. I might as well have drowned myself there and then. And he was probably thinking the very same thing.
But oh, how wrong I was! Who I discovered that day was a kind, responsible and yes, even funny guy who checked all my diving equipment thoroughly before each dive and made sure my oxygen levels were always adequate (we funky, creative ones can get carried away with the fascinating view down there in the sea, you know what I mean?). As I result, I felt safe and from then on, the techie and I became more than just dive buddies. We became friends. No longer were my working days filled with frustration whenever something went technologically amiss.
So how does this story segue into bakewell tart? I'm not quite sure how it does, and if it does at all. I guess what I'm trying to say is that stereotyping people and things certainly did not help me grow as a human being and whenever I've done it, it often surprises me. Some people/things are just not whom/what they seem. Like this bakewell tart, for instance. As a young adult, I had lived in the United Kingdom for close to ten years and in all that time, never once did a bakewell tart pass through my lips. The people of Derbyshire, where this dessert originates, will probably kill me for saying this, but the tart looked to my mind so sickly sweet and unappealing that I never desired it.
Until one day recently, of course, when a 'Best of British' cooking show on television had me enraptured with its chef's demonstration of a bakewell tart in the making. Oh dear, it hadn't looked sickly sweet at all, in fact, it looked rather appetizing! Since I've stereotyped bakewell tart so rigidly all these years, I wanted to set things right and taste one that I made myself. The components of this tart seemed easy enough - sweet shortcrust pastry lined with delicious jam, and topped with almond sponge or frangipane. My concessions were to use a rose petal and orange jam, with lots of sinful chocolate hidden underneath the frangipane layer!
I used this recipe from the Smitten Kitchen, just replacing the jam layer with:
- 1 cup rose petal jelly
- 2 oranges, peeled and sliced
- 200g dark chocolate, melted
Boil, then simmer the rose petal jelly with the oranges for about 15 minutes until syrupy. Sieve to remove the chewy bits of orange. Spread the orange-rose jam on the base of the crust, then pour in the chocolate.
For the crust, I simply kneaded in the zest of 1 orange to add more flavor. If you do not chill the frangipane mixture for at least 2 hours (like I clearly didn't, below), the frangipane will mix into the chocolate layer slightly when you spread it. I didn't mind because I quite liked the marbly chocolate-almond effect.
Orange-Rose-Chocolate Bakewell Tart.
This may be total blasphemy of a bakewell tart, but it's a path worth treading. I will never view this best-of-British tart in quite the same way again!
Bake well, folks.