Dinner Conversation

Where Tarts Are Born

Tart-maker Abigail King and her young taste testers invite us to join them for dinner.


by Abigail King

“Covfefe,” says Laszlo! “My problems are over. I’ll never have to invent another name for a D&D character again. From now forward, they are all Covfefe. Covfefe the Strong! Covfefe the Wise! Covfefe the Ignorant! Covfefe the…”

“I want to be Covfefe too,” interjects his younger brother, Paxton. But, “What is Covfefe?”

This snippet of dinner conversation does vary a bit from the norm in content—but not so much in the flow/interruption/flow.

Over dinner, I often feel like I’m playing multiball on an old pinball machine, trying to return zingers coming from at least two directions: Laszlo, the elder, and Paxton, the unstoppable. Often, Laszlo is haranguing me about Socialism. As in, why are you not more of a Socialist, Mom? Well, I’m a little hesitant about –ists. But you’re a feminist, right, Abigail? Um, yeah.

Laszlo is my number one taster and generally a fan; he’s much more likely to critique me for my ambivalence about letting the means of production and distribution be cooperatively owned by a single band of workers (which is essentially, ME) than for any errors of execution, as long as there is no cheese involved (there often is).

Then Paxton, who is probably helping me cook or possibly just cooking by himself because he is an awesome chef and can completely make dinner on his own while I am busy losing a political argument with Laszlo, claims the conversational helm. A frequent opener is, “Mom, I have an idea…” Then he continues down a rabbit hole of wild creativity: “There’s something I want to build. It’s a machine that will help me get ready for school in the morning. All I’ll have to do is pull a lever and the machine will do everything else.” Or, “I’d like to invite a few friends over to help me dig a pool in the backyard for the capybara that I’ve been saving up to buy. Apparently there are a few for sale in Toronto. Can we go?”

All the while, I am likely making tarts, for my family to enjoy, or to test on friends (sorry and thank you, friends), or for my new business, Tart Shop. Savory tarts were the genesis of the concept and have been a passion of mine for years, but the boys love dessert tarts, so I experiment with the sweet, fruity favors as well.

Laszlo is my number one taster and generally a fan; he’s much more likely to critique me for my ambivalence about letting the means of production and distribution be cooperatively owned by a single band of workers (which is essentially, ME) than for any errors of execution, as long as there is no cheese involved (there often is).

Paxton will sample-taste any ingredient, thoughtfully provide cogent feedback, and you can see his chef mind at work imagining it, whatever it is—celeriac, dragon fruit, turnip, sorrel—intermingling with other flavors. He’ll come back with a fantastic suggestion that I immediately feel the need to protect and copyright Willy Wonka-style (to Laszlo’s horror; the Capitalism! The greed!).

Not to tow a party line but just because it’s fair, in our house, the consumers do participate in the means of production, whether it’s by tossing a salad, frying an egg, husking some corn or setting the table.

Though I am usually at the contemplative, musing ends of the political arguments (why aren’t I more of a Socialist? hmm…) and the exotic animal debates (Let’s fly to the Philippines and bring back some tarsiers, yes! As soon as I sell a few thousand more tarts.), I do tend to win at the “clean up your plates and wipe down the table before dessert” (a tart!) showdowns.

And now that everyone has changed their passwords to Covfefe… the world is my tarty oyster.

 
Paxton, 10, is a budding chef and star rollerblader. Laszlo, 14, makes electronic music and is a Communist (capital C). Abigail has always liked the idea of starting a tart shop, and recently did. Check it out at tartaustin.com.


Read more from the Food Issue | July 2017


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