Licking uncooked cake batter from the beaters of a hand mixer was an evocative moment. There i was, standing in a kitchen badly in need of renovation in a recently purchased home, licking pre-baked banana bread mixture from a cooking implement like a child.
The mixture was sweet and kind of pleasant: edible but not irresistible. So what made me raise those beaters to my lips and lick?
It was a reflex born in my mother’s kitchen thirty-odd years ago. It wouldn’t have been pre-cooked banana bread mix back then, rather the creamy batter of the family-favoured walnut cake or, better still, the coffee-flavoured butter cream that would sandwich the two, fat halves together.
Or it could have been whipped cream for a trifle, or perhaps remnants of a hastily prepared packet-mix lemon cheesecake, which often surfaced for Sunday tea, clinging to a spatula or spoon.
I would have been hovering around the mixing bowl like a butterfly, in anticipation. I might have had to share the spoils with a sibling — we probably argued over who got more — or relished it all to myself.
Occasionally my mother would throw the battered-splattered implements straight into the soap-sudded washing up bowl without thinking, foiling our lip-smacking plans.
Were the rewards sweeter then? To a child’s immature palate and sugar tooth, the pre-baked cake batter was an irresistible treat, and something that was probably relished all the more because ‘licking the bowl’ flouted the usual rules around eating and table manners.
I can’t say the practice is equally pleasurable today — i get my food fixes in other ways. But it instils contentedness and sparks happy memories. It’s also a deeply ingrained childhood habit that’s difficult to break.
Do you still lick the spoon, or even the bowl — or both?