How to Make a Mess

Eton mess is made with meringue chunks, whipped/ice cream, and (usually marinated) fruit, traditionally strawberries. As the name implies, it’s said to have originated at Eton College, UK. The variation with bananas served at Lancing College is a Lancing mess, which sounds a bit bloody but isn’t.

A French meringue isn’t always practical in the humid South, so I often make what is called in culinary spleen Italian meringue. Heat a cup of sugar and a half cup of water to boil and cool to barely steaming. Whip four egg whites with a squirt of lemon juice to soft peaks, then SLOWLY drizzle in the sugar syrup. Keep whipping until quite stiff.

Spoon this meringue on a lightly oiled sheet pan and bake in the oven until dry through, then break into chunks. I splurge and serve it with vanilla Häagen-Dazs when I want to feel like I’m twenty again.

Messes are best made shortly before serving, which should be familiar for you. You can try to pretty up a mess with garnishes, but as you well know, they just don’t work.

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