I ate tapioca pudding when I was little. Never as an adult. It came in little cups or was made from the friendly little boxes that were stacked neatly in the cupboard. It was alien, strange, and satisfying. I loved it.
My parents ate tapioca pudding when they were little, too- a continuity that was unusual in our kitchen and felt wholesome and comforting to me, then. It still does.
Last week I ate lunch with my parents, which I don't often get to do, and there was tapioca pudding for dessert. It was a vegan coconut tapioca with mango- nothing at all like I ate as a kid. But it felt wholesome and comforting in my stomach as we sat around the table together. Tapioca always does.
This tapioca pudding is the pudding I made for my own kids the next day.
1/2 cup small tapioca pearls
4 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar (or a little less, if you like)
1 teaspoon vanilla
a dash of salt
Rinse the tapioca pearls, then soak them in the milk for 30 minutes,. Put the milk and tapioca mixture in a pot on medium heat to simmer, stirring regularly, until the tapioca plumps up admirably and the milk thickens (between 5 and 15 minutes depending on your tapioca). Stir in the sugar, vanilla, and salt, and taste to see if its right. Meanwhile, whisk the two eggs in a bowl and pour a bit of the hot pudding in, whisking well all the while. Pour the egg mixture back into the pudding pot and stir briskly over medium heat just long enough to cook the eggs and set the custard- just a minute or two depended on how how the pudding is. Eat it warm or fridge-cold (fridge-cold is best).