The Comforts of Queer Baking
When Bryan Washington came out to his parents, he baked them a comforting dessert they’d been eating all their lives.
Released on 2/27/2020
There's something to be said
about the role of queer bakers.
We often end up providing comfort
to those who may not have given it to us.
[air whooshing] [gentle music]
Any dessert really, subsists on the strength
of the anticipation that it provokes.
Doesn't matter if it's a slice of flan, or some tiramisu,
the hope is that within a few bites,
the dessert will transport you to a place much warmer,
more familiar, than where you began.
For me, bread pudding runs the table.
The American South is indisputably a bread pudding capital.
On my block, no one had any real money,
but for bread pudding, you didn't need it.
Everyone kept bread in his pantry.
It didn't need to be fresh, even better if it wasn't.
Stale bread sopped up more batter,
giving the pudding a forgiving crunch.
Some cream, and a handful of basic utensils,
and you worked straight at a minor symphony of sweetness.
It's comforting to know
that you can take an armful of leftovers,
and create something that'll change your whole fucking day.
[whisk whirring] [gentle music]
I honestly couldn't tell you
the first time I made bread pudding on my own.
I know that the first rounds were a gooey, lumpy mishmash.
The filling wasn't nearly as sweet as it needed to be.
My parents accepted their kid's new ambition
as a half-ass baker, and their friends accepted it too.
At cookouts, and watch parties,
where they nursed Red Stripes, and Shiners.
None of us had the lexicon
for the queerness that I was already, by then,
well aware would come to define me.
We stayed silent on that front.
Filling the void with damn near anything else.
Football, school, driving lessons.
But it didn't cost anything, emotionally,
to take a bite of pudding.
So, I kept baking for the rest of my years at home.
Until I moved out to find my own,
and the dish became creamier, more sumptuous,
preferably laced with white chocolate,
and doused with a sauce of condensed milk.
Bread pudding was the first thing that I baked
after I came out to my parents.
One batch for myself,
because holy fuck. [dramatic music]
Then later, one for my mother.
Scalding and soaked in coconut milk, splashed with rum.
A few weeks after that, I made another, for my father.
Sans the alcohol, but with an extra sprinkling of sugar.
Bread pudding was the dessert
that I cooked a few months back,
for family members whom I hadn't seen in ages.
And it made sense that we'd seek the certainty,
given the tentative relationships we were wading through.
But, before they'd even dropped their jackets,
we were already cutting slices.
Dribbling sauce into each bowl.