Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is a delicious-looking cloud

I saw this cloud as we were driving west through the mountains on the 80 right near Emigrant Gap. As we came around the corner I gasped and said, "That cloud looks delicious." Joel made fun of me and then handed me the camera.

But seriously, this cloud fills me with a desire for a dessert I can't quite name. This is a different instinct than the one that comes over me when I'm at the aquarium and can only think of sushi, because I'm not yet sure what would taste as good in the same way as this cloud looks.

Coconut macaroons aren't right because they're too angular and sweet. Foam isn't it because clouds aren't gimmicky. Meringue won't do because it's too dry when baked, and even a lightly baked meringue isn't quite right--though it's closer--because it's not a stand-alone, fully contained dessert experience. Though I once made a brunch dessert (I like the challenge of a brunch dessert because it can't be too heavy and it has to be able to sneak by as part of the meal, in case people don't believe in dessert with every meal) out of little baked spiral meringue disks topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a few pomegranate seeds, and that at least is working towards the right shape, and offers a bit in the way of the cloud.

But really, it's something that has to be billowy, pyramidal, and moist. Plus, it has to have all the implicit taste of this cloud: slightly creamy, mildly sweet, and not rich but definitely distinct.
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1 comment:

Matt said...

The "stand-alone, fully contained dessert experience" this cloud reminds you of may, in fact, be one you've never had ... yet. I am visiting LA -- and, as luck would have it, just last night my good friend Ian Chang introduced me to "Taiwanese Ice," which I first thought was some kind of crack cocaine. But it's not.

After a knock-your-socks-off Sichuanese meal at Chung King in San Gabriel, we toodled into a nameless (at least to me) all-night, by-the-numbers Chinese restaurant nearby. Ian ordered up a plate of red beans, sticky rice balls, green beans and mango pudding, which the xiaojie then topped with a butt-load of shaved ice over which she squirted about a half a squirt-bottle's worth of condensed milk.

It sounds ... a little nasty, but it's wonderful. The beans-and-such are slightly sweet, and there are so many conflicting sensations colliding: beans, sweet, gummy rice balls, freezy pangs of shaved-ice splendor, &C &c &c, that it really adds up to something wonderful.

The only bad thing is that, if you don't keep pace with the ice's melting, you end up with a bowl full of milky water with beans floating around in it.

Anyway, THE POINT of all this is that when the xiaojie hands the concoction over, it looks just like that cloud: Beans and whatnot buried underneath a rakish cone of shaved ice. Ian says that in Taiwan they actually do it the other way around: The ice is the bottom & the condiments are on top. But maybe the clouds in Taiwan look upside-down, too.