Double chocolate and banana tart: putting the pieces back together

For once, I thought I’d easily conquered not only the tart dough on round one, but also the entire multi-step process without incident, aggravation, mistake, or calamity. Surprisingly, despite the fact that I had to make an appetizer and the vegetable for the fifteen person dinner party hosted by our neighbors, I thought I had it all under control.  I had prepped ahead of time, anticipated the hours I’d need, and ran my kitchen smoothly while Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man played in sleeping bags in the dining room. I didn’t feel nervous or worried — in fact, I thought I had it all together.

My French Friday with Dorie, at least this time, seemed an unqualified success, but even more, one that gave me a boost of confidence in my ability to manage several different cooking and baking tasks at once. Here I was making a double chocolate and banana tart in seeming flawlessness and control.  In my hubris, I believed I was channeling Dorie and Julia all at once.

My tart done, bananas carefully arranged, I took the tart to the window with the most light to take the photograph. I didn’t anticipate the slippery tart pan and the plate, nor the toys under foot, and I slipped, sending several of my carefully arranged bananas onto the window sill.  By some mysterious luck, the rest of the tart remained in tact, and I gamely rearranged the banana slices — amid cries of, “Yuk, Mommy, that looks yuk!” and, “Ew, what happened?”

It looked worse, really, than it turned out to be — and Gorilla Girl even noted hopefully that the tart still looked sort of like a flower.

When my neighbors dug into the tart after our mother’s day feast, they lodged no complaints, and everyone exclaimed about the hidden caramelized banana layer. Go figure. Beauty is, after all, only skin deep. Despite my less than photogenic tart’s appearance, the taste turned out to be far more important.  What was inside was all that mattered this time around.

I suppose there is some lesson here — one for me to consider when things are less than perfect on the outside.  During that evening with the neighbors, I listened to a mom talk about how she conquered her now-twenty year old son when he was a wee bit of a two-year old by letting him know who was boss. Her pride in her accomplishment was evident, but it reminded me of my always present uncertainty about whether my mothering instincts are correct.  Perhaps, her strategy of confidence and tough-love along with the idea that if she named herself “successful mom” then she must be one.  It’s a method that seems to work for some folks, like positive reinforcement.

As a doubting Thomas, however, I don’t think that self-talk is enough to make me believe in my skill as a mother.  I’ll have to continue to rely upon trial and error, upon the pieces of the pie that fall apart, only to be dusted off, reassembled, and put back together. In the reassembly, perhaps there is some small measure of satisfaction, of recognition that despite the mistakes, things might turn out just fine in the end.

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22 Responses to Double chocolate and banana tart: putting the pieces back together

  1. Have you seen those ecards everyone puts on Facebook & Pinterest from that website called someecards.com? My sister in law posted one the other day with a mother hugging her child that said “I promise to give you just enough dysfunction to make you funny.” As long as there’s humor & fun, you’ll be great! 🙂 Your tart looks delicious & your neighbors are lucky to have had it. I had a similar situation last New Year’s where my inlaws were coming over and I was feeling really on top of things and then there was a serious catastrophe that kinda messed things up. Happens to us all!

  2. heidi1169 says:

    I ABSOLUTELY love your analogy this week. Mothering is so tough and sometimes we all doubt our instincts, I have been doubting mine this week and your post helped me. Good looking tart as well, who cares if it doesn’t “look” perfect.

  3. Heidi,

    Thanks for your comment — good to know that I am not alone in my doubts.

  4. I opened your article, saw the photo, and immediately thought, “Oh, my!” Then, as I read about you (and the tart) almost slip-sliding away, I thought, “Oh, my…” As I read the part about the “supermom” at the dinner party, I again thought, “Oh, my!” My, oh, my, oh, my. We all doubt ourselves as moms at times (well, maybe some moms don’t — but I wouldn’t want to be those moms). Rest assured, you’re on my “Best Moms” list! Enjoy your weekend. I hope you’re not shut in for the NATO conference.

    • We escaped the city for NATO (Ed is even off since their school wimped out and shut down on Monday). I’ll be working, though, while the helicopters zoom overhead. Thanks — glad to know I make the list of “Best Moms” (even though I have to question whether I really deserve to be there!).

  5. Congrats on conquering the tart dough!

  6. Heather says:

    LOVE it!

  7. Kathy says:

    Lovely looking tart! It’s always a great feeling to accomplish something new! Nice job!

  8. amanda says:

    Aww, I loved this post! Your tart looks amazing and the story to go along with it was perfect!

  9. Krissy says:

    Oh, I think you did everything perfectly! Your tart bananas do look like a beautiful flower…I would never have guessed you had a hard moment. Loved this post and now I’m going back up to the top to read it again. Beautifully done. You are a great woman and you did have it all under control. Life happens.

  10. Cher says:

    I love that you used the word “hubris” 🙂
    Every day, I wonder if I am making good choices or bad choices with my girls – and worrying about not totally screwing them up. I am starting to find that my parenting skills are validated when my girls talk about some of their peer’s parents and how they are glad that we have put certain boundaries in place for them. I guess that is when you know you are doing okay.
    Glad you survived your tart.

    • Cher – Good to know that I’ll be able to check in on parenting as my kids grow up. Because I am a 7th grade teacher, I think that I have quite a few examples to look to when it comes to reaching that stage of things, though I know being a teacher and parent are two different things!

  11. Wonderful post this week, very poignant. And after all that, your tart looks delicious. Honestly, I never would have know that there had been an accident if you hadn’t fessed up to it.

  12. dulceshome says:

    I love, love your post. And I agree, it’s not how something looks. Wonderful that your friends enjoyed and that you had a lovely evening! I made the Nutella hazelnut version, so didn’t have to worry so much about slippery bananas!

  13. I think the tart looks great. It has a pleasing “modern” look to it! I am suspicious of anyone who thinks that they have been a great parent. Pride goeth before the fall, you know, and we all make mistakes.

  14. betsy says:

    Julia Child would totally get behind your save on this one. It looks lovely. That hidden layer of caramelized bananas was, without a doubt, my favorite component to this one.

  15. You certainly are a very gifted writer – I was very moved by this post and other posts that I read. You certainly have a very interesting blog with a philosophical touch – I have not come across another one like it yet. Compliments on the wonderful job that you do with your family, your work, your blog and your cooking/baking. Sorry that I did not find the time before to leave comments on your blog – but I will make sure to drop by in the future!

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