Mark J. Keenan
Everybody's talking about lemonade scones
That's what my wife said yesterday. And her mum agreed.
At the time I was sat at my in-laws dining table, preparing to consume a scone. My floury cake was plain, the type which comes packaged with five others of identical taste and non-identical shape, and is purchased from one of two monopolising supermarket chains. The scone had been spread with raspberry jam, a fancy one received as part of a birthday hamper, and topped with cream from a pressurised can.
It had looked good to me, and I had been ready to enjoy it, but now I was wondering if I had been cheated. If everyone was talking about lemonade scones, why hadn't I been told, and why hadn't I received one. Why was I eating the Holden Commodore of tiny cakes and not the Mercedes Benz like everyone else appeared to be. I didn't say this out loud of course because when the mother of your beloved provides you with food; you should eat, make sure you finish everything on your plate, say thanks, and never utter another word. Those are the rules and you should follow them to the letter. I know because once I didn't.
We hadn't been going out long when I was invited to dinner at my now-wife-then-girlfriend's house. I already knew her parents but most of my interactions with them had been short and so their views of me were more likely based on the type of behaviour I was renowned for amongst my friends at the time. Wrestling stuffed toys, attaching clothes pegs to my face, shot-gunning cans of Emu Bitter, breaking the reverse parking speed record in an orange Honda Civic. My girlfriend's parents may not have seen these things, but they might have heard about them. I needed to improve my game if I was going to be invited back and it was all going fine until dessert.
I like fruit. I like fruit salad. And, having survived the awkwardness I felt at being there, and not said anything too stupid, it seemed like I was on the home stretch when the bowl was placed in front of me. But the tart flavour surprised me and I must have pulled a face. Maybe I pursed my lips or squeezed my eyes shut. Or perhaps my girlfriend's mum felt the sour spike herself and decided it was best to be up-front about the lemon juice she had used on the dessert to stop the slices of apple from going brown.
Still, I ate it. We all did. And I am sure I didn't say anything much about it. At the time anyway. It was later on when I would have a good laugh and joke with my wife about the lemon-flavoured fruit salad. And then it was every time. Whenever I ate fruit salad or I saw someone else eating it, I would remember the dessert and smile. And when the Wiggles declared their love of fruit salad - "yummy, yummy" - I would laugh and think of ways I might be able to deliver them a carton of lemon juice for them to trial. They might have liked it. Perhaps even written a song about it. Then everyone would be talking about lemon-flavoured fruit salad instead of lemonade scones.
Clearly, my mother-in-law is an innovator. Thankfully, she also has a good sense of humour and seems to forgive me despite over three decades of hearing my fruit salad themed jokes. And maybe she will get onto the Australian Patent Office because I think if lemonade scones are now the big thing, then certainly there is a place of honour in the culinary world for the decadent cascade of flavours that is her legendary lemon-drenched fruit salad.