“Well, I’ve about decided his lactose intolerance is all in his head. Ever since I’ve been making my own butter, he’s been eating it every day and hasn’t had one bellyache. But bring a pizza into the house? He gets all accusatory and has three hissy fits. ‘You’re trying to kill me, woman! You know I have a game tomorrow!’ Then he’ll go have a long sulk in his office and pretend he’s working on his business interests when all he’s doing is playing video games. I love him, I do, but he’s a trial.”
Tisha fingered the new sports-themed butter molds her favorite gourmet supply store in east Memphis had ordered in just for her. The folks at The Culinaria did not understand Tisha’s obsession with the frou-frou molds, but the high price point quelled any questions they might have had.
“Men are babies, Tisha. My mama always told me that when I was a child and so far I have yet to meet one who belies that bit of wisdom.” Michael Jones, Tisha’s best friend among the team wives, reached for a set of miniature flower-form cake pans and placed them into his basket. “Heaven knows Juan is. When he left for the game in Milwaukee yesterday he was missing his lucky socks and I had to FedEx them overnight so he’d have them in time for the game tonight. You’d think he was gone to summer camp and forgotten his teddy bear or somesuch!”
“Shane’s the same way. But for him it’s his pillow. If he doesn’t have his special pillow to sleep on the night before a game, he gets into a funk and decides there’s no way he can win. Coach and I finally got together and we have it fixed now so I have several pillows in the spare closet all the same and Shane has no idea there’s more than one. All he knows is he has his pillow and that he will wake up on game day ready to win. Silly, silly man.”
Smiling at her friend, Tisha looked past his shoulder and saw a display of serving bowls by a sign reading: For Your Favorite Fool.
“These are so pretty! But I don’t understand. What’s a fool? Maudie! Yoohoo! Can you come over here, doll?”
Maud, who owned the shop, nodded and walked over, ending her phone call with, “I’ll be sure to let you know when we get those in, Ms. Neely. Now then, what can I help you with, Tisha?”
“These new bowls. What are they for? And don’t people get mad when you call them fools?”
“Oh! I see what you’re asking. These are serving bowls for the dessert called a fool. It’s a really old whipped cream-based dish from Renaissance times or even earlier. I discovered fools in cooking school when I needed a simple dessert using fresh seasonal fruit that would do for a Madrigal dinner we were preparing. Fools go back to cookery books dating to the Sixteenth Century.”
“Wait a sec. So what do you do? Is it just some Cool Whip with fruit in it? My Aunt Trudy used to serve us that all the time whenever we went over for a visit.” Michael was not impressed.
“My soul, no!” Tisha shook her head. “Now that you’ve reminded me, I remember reading about fools in one of the dairy books I found when I went up to Michigan with the team last fall. I wanted to try making one, but Shane and his lactose issues kept me from it. I think they have wine or some other liquor in them, not just cream and fruit.”
“Girl, it’s simple.” Michael smiled conspiratorially and said, “All you have to do is tell him you used Cool Whip and not real cream and he’ll never know. And if you’re worried, just grind up some of those little white pills with some chocolate shavings and sprinkle them over the top. That’s what I do with Beano when Juan insists on having beans and rice. The man will not take a pill, but if I tell him it’s part of the spices on top of the dish, he’ll gobble it right up.”
“Ooh, you’re conniving, aren’t you? But I like the way you think.” Shifting her attention to the storeowner, Tisha added, “Maud, I’ll take a set of these. That big one and six of the smaller ones.”
“I’ll wrap them up for you right away. Can I do anything else for you?”
“No, that’s all for now. The butter molds and the bowls will be just fine.”
Once she was home again in her apartment overlooking the Mississippi River, Tisha carried her laptop to the table on the balcony and began looking for fool recipes.
“Gooseberries and elderberry wine. I wonder where I can find those here in Memphis. Maybe that British import shop will have some.”
Tisha picked up her phone and pressed 12 on the speed dial. Her new butter molds forgotten, she scrolled through web pages. As soon as she heard the British accent that answered her call, she knew the theme of her next dinner party.
“Tell me, Miss Percival, do you have any Anthony Newley music on hand? And what about gooseberries?”