by Kati Seiber
Legend has it that on September 4, 1974, a magical creature arrived on the planet. This creature was born with a sweet tooth (and coffee addiction), the likes of which the world had never seen before. It was therefore decreed that her Date of Arrival should be celebrated every year throughout the land with Extra Desserts for Everyone. (Editor’s note: We can find no conclusive evidence that Kati’s birthday is the origin of this day and she has been unable to provide us with documentation.)
And there was much rejoicing.
Before we can eat that extra dessert, however, we first need to establish what makes a dish “dessert.” No, it isn’t another serving of brussel sprouts, no matter what your mom tries to tell you.
Traditionally, dessert is the sweet food we have after a meal, though how often it is offered varies widely according to cultural and family customs. Some families serve dessert only on holidays, others have it once a week, and some families (though not nearly enough) have it every day.
What constitutes dessert can also differ, depending on the region or culture; an Indian family may have laddus for their last course, while their Southern United States counterparts might be eating pecan pie ala mode. In many homes, fruit is popular dessert, while in others, pudding or ice cream are the norm.
While a liking for sweet foods has been well established over the last 50 or 60,000 years, probably from the moment someone first tasted a fig, the idea of having a treat after a meal didn’t really catch on until just a few hundred years ago.
“Dessert” derives from the French word “desservir” – which means “to clear” –you clear the table of the meal’s dishes and then bring out the goodies. In the 17th century, it was all the rage to have social gatherings that went on all night (one can only assume these were young people; we old folks need our beauty rest!), so it became common to serve a sweet, smaller meal after the large feast.
The custom soon caught on around the world, because despite differing belief systems, cultural traditions, and languages, humanity was able to agree that this “dessert” thing was a GREAT IDEA.
Throughout the year, most people typically only eat one dessert a day, if that. While this is likely a healthier choice in the long run, sometimes only having one cupcake makes people like me sad – which is what makes September 4th such a joyous occasion.
Of course, there is a slight chance that this date was not chosen as Eat an Extra Dessert Day JUST because it’s my birthday, in which case, it’s still a VERY happy coincidence.
Whatever the reason for this glorious holiday, I think we can all agree that just its very existence is cause for celebration. So, go ahead and have some ice cream with your cake. Have another fruit tart or a second banana split. September 4th only comes around once a year, so we need to make the most of it!
Happy Have an Extra Dessert Day, everyone!