One of my most vivid childhood memories was the night I tasted by first meringue! I had had meringue on top of a pie before but I had never tasted a hard, baked meringue. I was about 8 or 9 years old and my parents took me with them to a Christmas party for the Arkansas Chapter of the Herb Society of America. It was at the Remmel’s house in Edgehill. White columns, two-story house. A circular drive. The highest form of elegance for a Southern girl growing in 1980s America. The house could have been Tara from Gone with the Wind or Southfork without the ranch for all I knew.
Oh back to the meringues… Mr. Remmel made this legendary duck soup (my mother still talks about that soup). I have a dream like reconciliation of a massive dining table full of food but I only remember the duck soup and the hard meringues. And these weren’t any meringues. They were made by a French women and she carried them around in a little basket with a linen cloth. Like you might envision Little Red Riding Hood or Gretel from Hansel and Gretel carrying through the forest. The meringues were shaped like mushrooms. The tops and stems had been made separately in molds and were assembled with chocolate as glue. They were sweet and crunchy and light. They were like little clouds of heaven. If I could have, I would have eaten every last one of them but I knew my manners and only ate one or two.
So if you ask me what my favorite dessert is, I’ll probably tell you Trio’s Raspberry Cream Cake or Izzy’s Strawberry Shortcake but if you ask me my food guilty pleasure, it has to be the meringue.