Is Perfection Overrated?

They are not perfect, but the are delicious.
They are not perfect, but they are delicious.

I try out new recipes when we are having company. Usually it is a dessert, and I almost never make a trial batch because, really, who needs to eat that much dessert? (Raises hand.) I know how to cook and follow directions, and I have figured out which chefs I like to follow (I’m looking at you, Ina Garten.) And I expect them to turn out perfectly, and look like the food-styled glossy magazine photos, every time. Sometimes I am disappointed. 

Just this morning, I decided to take my mom’s marble cheesecake recipe – my favorite childhood dessert – and recreate it in miniature. I have a thing for individual desserts. They are easy to eat, they look adorable and the photograph well. But it often requires guessing the correct cooking times, sometimes leading to marginal results.

This morning was no different. I want my dessert to be perfect. I know they taste good, as I taste-tested the batter several times. (Hey, I had to make sure…) They look good, but the tops are cracked a little, and the marbling is not perfect. I had to resist the urge to make the whole thing over again and pull them out of the oven five minutes sooner, just so they would look better. The bottom line is that I am certain they taste delicious, but they are not stunning.

The fruit tarts, however, will have to look perfect. The amazingly satisfying pastry cream is chilling in the refrigerator, and I can pick and choose perfect strawberry and kiwi slices for the top. You’ll have to wait for a photo of those.

Meals are – or should be – about gathering with friends and family over good food. (Good food really is the key.) Perfection, however, should be left to filtered photos and glossy magazines. It is overrated. The cheesecakes won’t last long enough to notice the imperfections.