When I first met my husband, his favorite cake was German Chocolate with coconut-pecan frosting. Not just any coconut-pecan frosting, the kind that you buy in the store. The kind that comes in a plastic tub.
I have never, not even as a child, been able to abide frosting purchased in a can. I can taste the plastic, and it ruins the entire cake. Thus, being the good girlfriend, turned fiancé, turned wife, I set to rid my husband of his terrible taste. This is the way marriage worked, I knew it. We were to help each other overcome our vices and grow in virtue. I would set out to rid my husband of the terrible vice known as store bought coconut-pecan frosting.
At first, I attempted the usual method employed by many a young bride. I attempted to nag the opinion out of him. I wasn’t, as you might guess, too successful in this. No amount of taunting or teasing; no amount of dramatic disgust rid him of this fondness for plastic tasting frosting.
Eventually, I thought to set myself on a different sort of method for completing my quest. For his birthday, I would make the coconut-pecan frosting from scratch and serve it to him on his beloved German Chocolate cake. There was no way he would prefer the nasty fake stuff to my fresh and made with love delectable delight. I would win.
But things didn’t go quite as I had planned. It wasn’t that I had burned the frosting or mixed up the salt for the sugar. Nothing like that. In fact, my first attempt was perfection. The frosting was fantastic tasting and the cake was delicious. My in-laws loved it, my neighbor loved it, I loved it. But my husband really didn’t.
The frosting was missing something. That it was missing a bitter plastic after-taste was lost on my husband. He missed the frosting he was used to. Fresh from scratch was no match for years of palette forming plastic.
But I am nothing, if not persistent. And so, for the next 15 or so years on my husband’s birthday I made the requisite German chocolate cake with from-scratch coconut-pecan frosting. It became, over the years, a kind of joke. I pretended that I wasn’t being selfish trying to turn his taste into my own, and he pretended to hate my version of the frosting. He insisted that still, after 15 years, canned frosting was his favorite.
His taste hadn’t changed, or so he claimed, during all that time. He was devoted to his plastic frosting.
Then, one year, the unthinkable happened. My husband, trying to help me out, went to the grocery store on his birthday and did the unimaginable. He bought a plastic tub of coconut-pecan frosting for the fresh from the oven German Chocolate cake waiting for him at home.
To say I was shocked when he placed the white tub with a red lid on the counter is an understatement. A marriage that is 15 or 16 years old knows better than to dismiss the can of frosting, though. Even if the wife is convinced her husband has absolutely hopeless taste. The canned frosting found its way to the cake. And everyone sang happy birthday and everyone had a piece of cake, my husband gloating nearly imperceptibly.
But a funny thing happened as were clearing the plates and washing the dishes. There was something wrong with the frosting, he thought. Maybe it was an old can of frosting; maybe it spent too long on the grocery store shelves. I disagreed, only a hint of smugness in my voice. No, the date on the can was fine.
Sometimes, things aren’t just a matter of taste. Sometimes, the fullness of flavor can’t possibly be understood until someone has experienced it. The Protestant churches I grew up in had many fine qualities about them. But there was always something that just wasn’t quite right. While attending the churches, there was no way I could distinguish the canned flavor of sola scriptura or “faith alone.”
It wasn’t until I found the fullness of faith within the Catholic Church that I could distinguish the fresh from the canned.
My husband freely admits to liking the frosting I make now, and I politely refrain from pointing out that I was right.
The thing is, it might not be possible to account for taste. But it’s certainly possible to change it. It just takes patience and love.
Feed your friends the truth; a little bit here and a little bit there. You might see them return to the plastic frosting on occasion, but eventually – somewhere at sometime – the faint and distinctly plastic taste will come through. When it does, have the real thing – dense and sweet – at the ready.