English Trifle

My object is my mother’s Traditional English Trifle, and I’ll refrain from making it a metaphor for a layered cultural heritage. We’d moved from England when I was a toddler, and besides making us kids watch Fawlty Towers at a young age or the usual disappointment every few years at the World Cup or Olympic Games, I was pretty much raised American. But free from the confines of English society, my parents were able to pick and choose which food customs to keep and which to leave behind. I can safely say I’ve never had blood pudding, though I have tried spotted dick. Once. But I’ve had my share of clotted cream and scones, fish and chips, and shepherd’s pie. Growing up I constantly heard, “English candy is ten times better than American candy”, an unspeakably cruel thing to say to a child. Every holiday, my mother would create an English Trifle. I remove the “Traditional” here, because probably sometime after the third holiday dinner, my mother grew tired of the typical layer of sponge cake, raspberry jelly with cut-up strawberries, custard, whipped cream, and some kind of fruit topping. She kept the same formula. But sometimes she’d switch up the fruit. Sometimes it was all chocolate (an especially good year). Occasionally it’s coffee and chocolate (not so great as a kid, now the best thing). It kind of sums up the best things about my mother, which in turn encompasses my feelings towards my heritage -- elegant but uncomplicated, creative and never just any one thing.

Year: 1992

– Gemma Solomons

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child