First, important news on the North Melbourne café front: Di Bella has a new summer menu. This is partly the reason for my delay in blogging, I’ve been too busy enjoying the intermittent sunshine and eating my way through the new menu. Favourite newbies include the omelette with beetroot, goat’s chees, heirloom tomatoes and awesome super thin crouton-crips. Another standout is the peach toast. It’s basically like eating an elaborate peach cake for breakfast. And it’s very very pretty on the plate. It looks and tastes like the essence of summer.
Eating dessert-like substances for breakfast brings me to the subject of today’s blog, which is ‘eating dessert first’. It’s one of those slogans you see printed on tea-towels and fridge magnets, you know, ‘Life is short: eat dessert first’ and then a silly cartoon of a glamorous woman from the fifties holding a huge cake. There’s many blogs and foodie newsletters based around this phrase, even T-shirts and other cutesy-giftware. But do people actually do it? On a regular basis I mean, like, as a way of life?
Being a massive sweet tooth, this concept does have some appeal for me. But being a cautious ex-lawyer type, I in fact normally eat my veggies first, safe in the knowledge that my second ‘dessert’ stomach (because there is such a thing I assure you) will find room for that chocolate éclair or blackberry crumble with vanilla bean ice-cream.
There’s even some nutritionists who’ve argued it’s not a bad idea to eat (a small amount of) dessert first, before your veggies. Apparently the fat in the dessert will help you absorb more nutrients out of the veggies and also help you feel fuller for longer. Not sure about that theory (wishful thinking?) but it’s an interesting thought…
So I don’t eat dessert first, but I do read dessert first. When I look at a menu, my eyes can’t help but to just slide across and down, towards the dessert section. If I know/think it’s likely that we’re having dessert, I’ll usually spend those first few minutes perusing the dessert list and making a selection, before going over to the savoury section. Once I’m safe in the knowledge that I’m having the cheesecake for dessert, I can exclude the four cheese pizza from my potential list of main meals (too much creaminess). If I’m going for the lemon tart, then I won’t have the lemon and asparagus angel hair pasta, because that would just be a bit samey, wouldn’t it? You get the idea. I prioritise the dessert choice. My partner and I also play a little game where, when looking at a menu in a new restaurant we haven’t been to before, we try to guess which dessert the other person is going to go for. It’s normally pretty easy though – since we’ve shared rather a lot of meals and we both have a kind of dessert kryptonite which gets us every time (me: anything chocolate, him: salted caramel or lemon tart).
Things get trickier for my selecting dessert first method when the dessert menu is separate to the rest of the menu. Quite a few places do this. I love The European on Spring Street, but they are an offender in this category. Some places use it like a ‘reveal’ at the end, hoping you’ll be so excited by the blood orange trifle on the suddenly proffered menu that you’ll overcome the food coma you’re slowly sinking into. Others keep them separate because their dessert menu is more like a specials list, with a small number of desserts that change regularly. I guess they are the experts and know their business. But for a dessert strategist like myself, it’s rather offputting to have no idea if it will be a brulee or baklava at the end of the meal. First world problem, I know!
We’re programmed to like the sweet stuff because it contains a whole lot of energy. Back when we were cave people, running around all day with a honey-filled bees nest or handful of ripe berries a rare occurrence, it made sense to eat dessert first. Now it’s customary to eat dessert last and sit down for most of the day. If we eat dessert first, are we undoing evolution? Or just giving into our natural tendencies?
Perhaps, with Christmas feasting coming up, it’s possible I might just start eating dessert first and last…