by Gerald Bunton
Back in 1975 when we were just newlyweds my uncle Charlie and aunt Frances Bunton came up from Bowling Green, Kentucky to visit my father. As some wives do my wife started to brag about how good her husband could cook in fact she thought I made the best desserts. My uncle mentioned that he did a little cooking. Me I’m trying to signal my wife to not brag about my cooking. But she didn’t get the signal.
My uncle being an old time poker player and fisherman threw out a little bait by saying he was a fair dessert man himself. My wife took the bait and said her husband could really out cook any one. Now he sets the hook by saying just maybe we should have a little cook off just to settle the issue. Me I saying to myself what has she got me into? So it’s set the next day we will make our specialty dessert.
I go across the street to pick up my supplies all the time knowing that it’s a hopeless task but my baby believes I can so I’m gonna give it my best. We all meet in my kitchen and uncle starts with the psychological warfare right at the start. He asks “did I see store bought vanilla wafers in your bag ?” I just mumbled a low “yes sir” and sneaked the pudding mix out of the bag. Round one to Charlie Bunton but I’m still steady on my feet. He’s sitting in a neutral corner just watching for an opening. I mix my pudding and then he pounces again. “That smells like Jello pudding , is it?” again I just mumble a quiet “yes sir” and try not to let my pudding scorch I know he’s trying to throw me off my game. Round two I’m still standing but the round goes again to Charlie B.
Now to try and throw me off my game he quietly starts to mix his cookies, again from scratch of course. Slowly the seductive odor of vanilla and sugar starts to get past the pudding I’m stirring. I know his game distract me and my mix scorches and knock out, game over. But the cookies do bring back sweet memories of the trips to Kentucky when we were kids and he would cook up a few dozen for the trip back home. My mind is drifting back to very distracting days but I never stop stirring my pudding though. Round three goes to me for just making it past the the distraction of cookies baking.
Now I give him the stove as I build my Banana pudding layer by layer. Cookies, yeah I know, store bought. Then hot unscorched pudding, then a layer of bananas. Two more layers of each as I build my perfect dessert. Uncle is now at the stove mixing his pudding, I know all scratch ingredients. The man is a master at the stove. I simply have to stop what I’m doing, which is mainly sulking over near the refrigerator, to watch the magic hands throwing a little of this and a little of that into the pot and the most delectable aromas fill the air. Then he pulls out the cookies and I can’t resist. I break down and ask for a couple. He only smiles that winner’s smile. I snatch a couple any way. Round four to Charlie B. If this was a boxing match the ring doctor would have stopped the fight as I took my first bite of hot vanilla cookie.
Now both desserts are chilled and ready to serve. I can’t wait to sample his dessert but I will wait til later. I don’t want to influence the judge my dear wife. We march out of the kitchen like two proud gladiators waiting the final judgment . Our creations are placed on the table and everyone gathers around. Karen takes the first taste, it’s mine, and smiles. The she tastes uncles creation and eats the entire sample, but she looks at me and again smiles. The verdict: his is the best banana she has ever tasted but I get the silver medal for coming in second so it wasn’t a complete knock out.
Then I told Karen she had entered a cook into a competition with a master chef. The Bunton men all knew how to cook but some were more advanced.
Gerald Bunton is a native of Woodburn, KY and a long-time Rochester resident. He has been married 42 years, is a grandfather, great grandfather, retired millwright, urban fish farmer and currently an organic gardener.