Under the Sky Tower
It hit me when I was watching Coro St last Thursday night.
That craving I get every once in a while for a large banana icecream sundae topped with rich warm chocolate sauce and some hundreds-and-thousands over the top, if I was lucky enough to locate any in the pantry.
It'd been exactly 36 hours after spending $345 at the supermarket, and I was quietly confident that I had all the ingredients needed for one of my creamy specials. There was the container of Neapolitan we'd diplomatically chosen after Quiet Middle Child and she-once- known-as-Little-Weenie almost came to blows over icecream choices at Pak 'n Save.
The chocolate sauce sitting safely behind the tomato sauce bottle in the fridge was a last-ditch effort to placate the 15-year-old when she had packed a sad about being unable to eat the brownie I was making for a barbecue that night, due to it containing her fatal allergen . . . egg.
And the hundreds-and- thousands had been sitting around for some time going stale, thanks to the same child deciding taking fairy bread (her absolute perennial favourite) to school was gay.
I was sure we'd received at least a dozen perfectly ripe bananas from the to- the-door fruit and vege service we'd been enjoying over the past month or so, nestled alongside lettuce, tomatoes and courgettes in its box. My mouth watered at the thought.
I'd just unpacked the dish drawers, so I knew a sundae glass was washed and sparkling in the cupboard. A spoon was available and, best of all, the kids were both in their bedrooms doing what I thought was homework but in reality was goodness only knows.
Hubby was at the first of his three scheduled Christmas functions, so I was alone to do whatever I wanted.
And I wanted a banana icecream sundae.
Now, before I carry on with the unfortunate story, I have to set the scene. Pudding in our household is fairly rare - to be truthful, we only have formal dessert when visitors come. On a normal night, Hubby might snack on cheese and crackers, and I might grab a handful of marshmallows or a pottle of "no bits" yoghurt to devour as the watershed turns television "adult" with the setting of the sun.
The kids like a biscuit or two, the cats crunch on their "sensitive stomach" biscats, and the fridge is closed before the hour of 10.
In other words, a fairly typical Kiwi household.
But every now and again, I crave icecream. It's been that way all my life - I can go 12 months without spooning an ice-cold dob of cream straight on to my sensitive teeth and never think about it once. Then, without warning, the idea of "cookies and cream" or "goody goody gumdrops" gets my heart racing and the saliva glands activated.
It's a bit of a burden, but one I bear.
So, blissfully unaware of what was to come, I stepped into the kitchen last Thursday night with just one thing on my mind. And - as you can probably guess from the luck I am usually gifted with - I was sadly disappointed.
Reaching into the freezer, my fingers connected with an uncannily light icecream container with not a skerrick of product inside. Fury flashed my skull red. "Who ate all the icecream?" I hollered at the top of my voice.
A faint reply from the 15-year- old's bedroom floated to me. "Temeca did," she called, referring to her 14-year-old best friend in the whole world.
"But it was only purchased yesterday," I yelled.
"She's a pig when it comes to icecream . . . you know that," came the reply. Of course I knew that.
Hang on though . . . I could still rescue the moment with chocolate sauce on wafers. Shifting the tomato sauce to one side, I searched the fridge for the elusive brown bottle. "Where's the chocolate sauce?" I screamed. "We only got it yesterday."
"We took it to the beach this afternoon and our friends ate it all," came the answer. "You know those guys are pigs."
Oh well, I thought, bananas - while not the best things to gorge on before bed - were still the healthiest option on the table. Turning to the fruit basket, I scanned fruitlessly the tired- looking apples, limp oranges and scummy lemons for one of the dozen or so bananas I knew were there.
"Who has eaten all the bananas?" I hollered angrily.
"Sorry Mum," called Quiet Middle Child. "We made some banana smoothies and by the time we realised, we'd used them all!"
Dejectedly, I located the container of "hundreds and thousands" in the pantry. Licking my finger, I dipped it into the tiny balls of sugar and stuck the catch in my mouth. They tasted old and soft, and I gave up after one try.
A Mallowpuff is what I need, I thought. Unfortunately, the three packs I'd purchased the day before sat empty in the rubbish bin.
"A few people came over after school and they were hungry so they raided the cupboards," someone said from their bedroom.
What were these kids, I thought . . . blimmin' human hoovers or something?
A more detailed scan of the pantry revealed the extent of the pillage. All the biscuits were wiped out, the two-minute noodles were decimated, the bread all gone, the lolly jar completely stripped, the peanut butter violated and anything vaguely resembling a donut gone by lunchtime.
The fridge was even worse. All the English muffins were missing, the leftover brownie just a distant memory, the soda-with-a-twist-of- lemon empty and the Up-and-Gos all up and gone.
I sighed in despair.
"Exactly how many people were here today after school and ate possibly $200 worth of groceries?" I demanded.
There was a silence as they calculated. "Only about 15," the person once known as Little Weenie called back. "Not many."
As I kissed the possibility of a banana icecream sundae goodbye, I made a promise to myself. No more yummy biscuits, delicious slices and juicy fresh fruit for this household any more.
At the supermarket this week, our trolley will feature grainy crackers, tasteless muesli bars, gluten-free carrot loaf and sultana biscuits.
And guess what I'll be doing as soon as I can . . . shouting myself a banana icecream sundae at the local icecream shop. It's the least I deserve.
- © Fairfax NZ News