One of my biggest bugbears is the word ‘dessert’ (when people mean ‘pudding’). It’s not a class issue, it’s not a preference, it’s simply incorrect. It’s a mistake. It’s WRONG! Pudding is not dessert, and dessert is not pudding.
This is not going to be a long blog post as, quite frankly, there is very little to say on the matter as in this instant it is an open/shut case. I just had to get this off my chest and into the ether for the poor, misguided souls who are going about thinking they are being sophisticated by using the term ‘dessert’.
Dessert was/is the fruit course. It came after pudding and was often eaten (if available) with dessert cutlery. These would be a very small, kind of fiddly, fork and knife that would aid in removing the skin from an apple, a plum and the like.
Pudding is the pudding. It’s the rhubarb crumble, it’s the lemon meringue pie, the chocolate cheesecake. That is pudding.
Desserts were so called as it came once the table had been ‘deserted’ of the other accoutrements. This course began to vanish after the Edwardian times (probably due to the wars, I would guess) and the term ‘dessert’ kind of hung around like an unwanted guest at a party, before it unashamedly assaulted the sweet course and beguiled everyone into calling said sweet course ‘dessert’.
Restaurants, cafés, books, people who should know better, all over the world persist in calling my favourite course by the wrong name and it really, really winds me up as they (especially restaurants) think they are being more sophisticated by using a word of French derivation, rather than an admittedly clumpy Middle English one.
So please from now on can we all go about calling fruit ‘dessert’ and the course that we eat after the main, ‘pudding’.