If you grew up in the 90’s in Sri Lanka, chances are that you are of the custard pudding generation.
Back in the day, custard pudding and jelly was a delicacy. It was what our mothers made for us on Sundays and on any other day if we were good. It was what was served at dinner parties in fancy bowls, decorated with jelly, bits of candied fruits, roasted cashew nuts and raisins – a feast nevertheless for the eyes and the tastebuds.
Custard pudding on the veranda while the dogs played at my feet, listening to the adult chatter waiting till the day I am old enough to join them. Savoring spoons of custard pudding while parked in front of the TV watching the weekend movie, taking my time with that precious bowl of golden cream in my hand because I know that there wouldn’t be seconds. Hovering about the kitchen as mother stirred a nonstick pot just until it set right and later on in life, stirring the pot myself under mother’s supervision, dreaming of time alone – the nonstick pot with streaks of pudding still stuck to it set under the sink to wash and I. These are my custard pudding memories.
The custard pudding that we knew came in a packet. 5 tablespoons for 500ml milk was the norm, but as all Sri Lankan mothers do, we always added just a little bit more just in case. The result was a pudding overset to the point of being rubbery but it was okay, nothing can ever be wrong. Once in a while we’d bite into a plum and we’d tremble in delight – tart against sweet, tangy against creamy.
The custard pudding was also my first culinary experiment. 5 tablespoons of the powder was measured just right, only to wonder if it was indeed sufficient and add another tablespoon and another for safe measure. Sugar was the same. The outcome was a rubbery, overtly sugary mess that nobody could eat. The verdict – custard was a tricky dish. It was a while before I attempted custard again.
The weather is just marvelous in Sri Lanka this time of the year. The sunshine takes on a honeyed golden glow characteristic of the year end festivities and there’s a certain lull in the air that sets you on a blissfully languid state. There is an undeniable sense of electric festivity in the air that puts a spring in your step and makes you light up from within – quite literally.
I made custard and jelly today to celebrate the official unraveling of the season and it all came flooding back. The Christmases, the New Years, the birthdays, the weddings, the celebrations just-because, the happiness, the abundance of it all encapsulated in all those memories just burst forth with the first bite. I was drenched in happiness.
So what are you favorite custard and jelly memories? Di you make it or do you just remember eating it? Do you like eating it now? It doesn’t have to be custard exclusively, oh no. It can be any other food memory that you have. Do you have any other nostalgic food that reminds you of happier times and instantly light you up? Do you have a specific food that you always go back to when the seas get rough to remind you of the good things in life? Do share!