I’ve brought up a phrase a few times in some of my posts and realized last week, when it came up again in conversation, that it probably needs its own spotlight. You might have caught it a few times, as it was mentioned recently in my write-up about our family holiday dinner this year, among other places. That is “to pre-ssert.”
This term was created by my little brother, as he came out and said in the comments on that above post, to cover up for the time that he tried to eat a cookie on the sly in front of my impressionable young niece just before they were supposed to be having dinner. My brother is a habitual snacker, so this is no surprise to anyone, but to a parent who is trying to instill discipline and a sense of household order, it can derail things substantially when other family members violate the “no snacks before meals” rules. To clarify, however, a pre-ssert is not a snack, per my brother’s definition and what he told my niece that day. (This distinction completely cracked up my youngest sister, as she mentioned it again during the holidays this year.)
I first heard him use this term, and was told the explanation behind it, when I was traveling in Italy with that same brother and his wife. We were touring Venice, starting to think about where to have lunch, when he decided that he needed a little something to tide himself over. Again, this was pretty close to the hour when we were going to eat, so it was away from the official snack timeframe. A tartufo was his nosh of choice at that time, in much the same way as it would have been an after-meal dessert for someone else.
This whole thing was just too good to keep to myself, so I’ve often shared the concept with friends. The general reaction is, as it was last week, “I love that! I’m so going to use it!” I actually encourage and support careful pre-sserting, I really do. I have even practiced it myself, such as when I was at the Grub Street / Hester Street Food Festival (photo above). Another great option is my new food favorite, Robicelli’s Cupcakes (photo below), which I discovered at Park Here. Check out their flavors on the website. If you are going to pre-ssert, these are definitely worth indulging in for that cause.
So, I pass along this favorite family expression. Feel free to use this term to cover up your own edible indiscretions. I can’t be responsible for whether or not it works as you try to convince your younger family members that it is perfectly all right to have that sweet (it’s always a sweet) before the meal, wiping the tell-tale crumbs from around your mouth in the process. After all, it’s perfectly o.k. You aren’t snacking, as you tell them, you are only pre-sserting.