Nobody wants their dessert to be awful.
Except when you’re deep in the Scottish Highlands, and the sweet varietal is crumble. But let me backtrack, so you can get the full scoop of the story.
We are in Aviemore, same place we had set our feet on to ascend Britain’s most haunted mountain. We have just found a camping spot, and unpacked our little tent, lovingly dubbed “Cupcake” (notice the coherence of the sweet theme), however completely unrelated to the crumble. Having broken some sweat driving the stakes into the hard rocky ground, we felt that the workout necessitated a dinner reward. Our destination was mere 10 min walking: Macdui’s, a pub namesake for the UK’s second tallest peak, Ben Macdui. Our heads were turning like those of owls, guessing at the surrounding peaks which one we were to trample over victoriously the following day. Seriously, how hard could that be? The Scots themselves call it “hillwalking”. For a New England mountain climber with countless trips up and down Mt Washington in all kinds of weather, this seemed like a piece of cake…
Speaking of cake. We have successfully packed away our dinner at Macdui’s, downed each a half-pint of the pub’s finest, and unanimously voted in favor of dessert. Our lovely lady server announced in her thick northwestern Scottish accent, that the “seasonal crumble was … AWFUL, and the cheesecake was LEMON”, and then retreated, leaving us doubled over our menus. Between the seizures of laughter we deduced that “awful” must have been the “apple” tangled in the pronunciation intricacies, while the image of a single lemon impersonating a cheesecake was still tickling our sensitive giggle-makers. We ended up ordering a delightful warm chocolate cake, but the crumble incident made frequent comebacks into our conversations, and we fully intend on keeping it fresh for as long as possible.
On our last day in Aviemore we thought it criminal to not pay a visit to Macdui’s for our farewell dinner. Both of us were hoping to get served by our favorite lady server from that first dinner. The stars were benevolently positioned in the sky, and she indeed took our order. We debated whether or not to ask about dessert options, and since we were both dying to hear it one last time, I came up with a perfect set up:
“Say, is your crumble still…?”
“Aw! Still awful!!”
Our gleeful cheer must have sent a message that we were just so happy it was still there, that a few minutes later, she popped her head in, and, with intonation that I do not have the words to describe, and the facial expression that is impossible to reproduce in written format, she exclaimed – yes, exclaimed! – the question:
We were both so full from the great Scottish food and ample beer, that we couldn’t possibly fit even a wafer thin mint. I think it’s safe to say we both still deeply regret that we have not gotten that apple crumble.
On this note, aside from the Isle of Skye, Heelind Coos, and mixed climbing, the great Awful Crumble has earned its place as one of the reasons for us to come back to Scotland one day.
Here’s to every “awful” crumble to be sweet, warm, with a hint of tartness, and snuggled up agains a generous scoop of ice-cream.