Trifle is ingrained in the spirit of all that is British. Accompanying events, both personal and public, trifle personifies pomp and circumstance, a Mother's love, empathy, flying proudly in the face of adversity. The styles and ingredients can be varied and adapted, to taste and the ingredients at hand; custard, sponge cake, jam, fruit, a splash of sherry and cream are the core. There are trifles with or without jelly (jello) but, for me, they miss the mark. and sophisticated or childishly glee-full; my days are English Sherry Trifle; sometimes with sprinkles on top. There's hard work and planning involved in Trifle; the sponge cake has to have time to be stale, before gluing it together with strawberry jam. Sherry and cognac in just the right measure; it can't get soggy before the jelly layer is added or it won't set with just the right wobble-factor. I like to use fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries but a can of peaches or mandarin orange slices have honored many a trifle in England and done themselves proud. I once forgot a cardinal rule and used pineapple. Oh knowledgeable ones, you can see this coming; I hear you sucking in your breath. Jelly does not set in the presence of pineapple! Indelibly marked on my memory now. I knew this once. How could I be so nonchalant and careless as to forget? I saved the day by freezing my trifle and rushing it to the table at the last minute without giving it time to deconstruct and become a floaty mess. My Lovely Daughter was witness to my almost failure and reminds me whenever I mention the urge to make trifle, as if I would repeat my mistake. I have a friend who makes a white on white trifle; This "Designer Custard" is made to be eaten by stiffly slender, Beautiful People for whom the risk of a blob of dessert on a lapel or decolletage greatly outweighs the possible joy to be found on their spoon. This blanc-mange is restrained and sophisticated; seeking the approval of those who attend modern art shows and feel too intimidated to air an honest opinion that the Emperor's new clothes are but a sham. They are missing out on the flavors, colors and textures of life lived to the full. The individual ingredients of trifle, like life, are best savored with exuberance and freedom from restraint. This colorful dessert is for the young at heart. There is nothing hesitant, questioning or uncertain about my trifle. It conjures brightly painted walls, balloons popping and horses prancing. It is a heraldic fanfare, a cannonball into the deep end, sex with snorting laughter, cartwheels and hugs that hurt. Trifle may be a foreign custom but it needs no translation, it's the little dessert that could! May you all find sprinkles on your trifle in 2010.
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