I made these last week, and it was when I was biting into one, the crisp shell exploding in my mouth and shattering all down my front and onto the floor, covering me in a dusty coating of sticky crumbs, that I became quite philosophical about this innocent concoction of egg white and sugar.
Like a meringue life really is fragile. Our relationships with lovers, partners, friends and family, how fragile and finely balanced our environment is, (teetering on the verge of actual serious conversations about stalling the extinction of even our very existence); it's all just a thin sprinkle covered coating away from shattering. Things you say without thinking can destroy a friendship, even things you don't mean. With today's saturation of social media a single 'tweet' or 'post' can be misread and have you battling against family or being forced to constantly defend yourself for things you've never done. And then there's the arguments you can have with your partner, because you're both stressed about money, or that you are forced to spend so much time apart because of the demands of work, or you're just tired because of the million and one things that fill your day. Those arguments that lead to words that are said, that are not really meant, but perhaps are just frustrated thoughts that we all sometimes have, and now they are out there and they go on to hurt a person long after they were voiced. Words that will get replayed in your mind when you are feeling low and make you doubt who you are and how your partner really feels about you. It is these 'meringue' moments that we need to try and avoid. Because like a meringue, it only takes a puff of wind and these relationships, and yes, even our lives, can be completely blown away.
The human race is like a meringue, because like the way I ate another one, and got covered AGAIN in white powder, we never learn our lesson. We are still fighting and hating and trying to exterminate entire races, religions or those that are different from us. The question of why a crazed few find it necessary to open fire in a crowded theatre in Paris or shoot those at random in the recent shootings in America, I don't think will ever be truly explained. What really brings people to do this? There is no straight forward answer and considering what the possible conclusion might be, it doesn't bear thinking about. Our co-existence is so fragile, and always has been since the dawn of time, that picturing a meringue with its hollow centre and the delicate walls that surround it, is about as good an analogy as you can get.
My quest to simplify my life, rely less on having 'stuff' and think more about having experiences and spending time with family is what has brought me to consider my meringues as not just a sweet treat that, let's face it, I try and hide from the children (!), but also as a reflection on how precious my loved ones really are. With Christmas just around the corner, and traditionally being a time where we all get together and spend time with family, it further heightens this awareness that it is the people that are in our lives that are important and not the 'things'. Where the lead up to Christmas is now all about the stress of getting your Christmas shopping done (buying more 'stuff'), why not this year think about the 'meringue' factor and think about how quickly and easily life can just dissolve.
Enjoy your time together, because it really is so precious, (and I'm not just talking about the time over the festive season), and perhaps to help you get a better understanding of my theory.....make yourself a batch of meringues! (recipe below xx)
4 to 5 egg whites (depending on the size of your eggs)
1 cup of castor sugar
Food colouring (if you wish)
Preheat oven to 100 degrees Celsius (212 F). Cover baking trays with baking paper. Separate your egg whites into a large mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the sugar a tablespoon at a time, making sure that the sugar dissolves. If you like you can add a few drops of food colouring.
Using a piping bag pipe the meringue into swirls on the trays, decorate with sprinkles and place in the oven for approximately an hour, or until the meringues are dry to the touch. To cool switch off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven with the door open ajar.
(If you're really clever you can have a go at making animals or all sorts of other shapes but my piping skills are pretty ordinary so I stick with this 'soft serve ice cream' type shape!)