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Adventures in food for curious cooks.

It Gets Worse, but There's Pudding

Unfortunate Cooking

Come for the delicious recipes. Stay for the terrible story.

It Gets Worse, but There's Pudding

Lynley Jones

Return to A Series of Unfortunate Recipes homepage.

This week, we have pudding. And chocolate. And chocolate pudding. And Julia Child. And many more words, most of which are too unpleasant to read.


This still image was obtained from the files of the Netflix corporation. It demonstrates Sunny's brave stand in favor of chocolate pudding.

There are many pleasant words in the English language. For example, the words "charming," "exquisite," "glorious," "truffles" and "reasonably priced kitchenware" are all wonderful words that fill our hearts with joy, and can be found in a book called Mastering the Art of French Cooking, written by a woman named Julia Child and her associates. This book, as everyone knows, is the story of an American spy who is lost in Paris and finds clues at a famous cooking school, hidden in the Sole Meunière.

There are very few wonderful words, however, to be found in Lemony Snicket's account of the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire orphans as written in The Bad Beginning. Although it was occasionally necessary for them to wear disguises, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire were not spies living in Paris. Instead, after their parents died, they were forced to live with Count Olaf, a despicable man with terrible manners, a disgusting home and very little kitchenware of any price.

In this deeply dismaying book, Snicket does include one rich, velvety, dark and delicious word. That word is chocolate. It is found exactly once, buried deep in the fourth chapter, and is used to describe the pudding the Baudelaires made to serve as dessert for Count Olaf and his vile theater troupe. Its strange, incongruous appearance in a book brimming with despair and bad food begs the question (a phrased used here to mean why is it here): Why is it here?

Chocolate Pudding

Aztec Chocolate Pudding (with cinnamon) and classic Chocolate Pudding (with chocolate shavings), made in the Adventure Kitchen.

After countless hours spent sifting through the grimy pages of cookbooks pulled from the ashes of a certain kitchen while eating rocky road ice cream straight from the tub, I have determined that the only possible explanation is that Snicket has placed that word in this story as a clue.

Of course, it could be a form of Verbal Fridge Dialogue, but I have ruled that out because everyone knows you should never keep good chocolate in the fridge. I have considered the possibility that it is an anagram, or perhaps some sort of acrostic cypher, but my research continues without an answer. Until the mystery is solved, I will continue creating recipes and writing flowing sentences of brilliant prose such as these: 

Children are Hearing Olaf Chewing Obnoxiously. Let's Attempt To Evacuate. 


Classic Chocolate Pudding

The Baudelaires' misfortune left them with no choice but to make pudding from a packet of pudding mix. It is my hope that you, dear Reader, may have access to chocolate, eggs, cornstarch, milk, sugar, salt, a little butter and vanilla extract, so that you can make delicious chocolate pudding from scratch, as in this recipe.

Azetc Chocolate Pudding

Speaking of unfortunate people, the Aztecs combined chocolate with chiles and cinnamon to make delicious concoctions long before the Europeans arrived with their notions of custards and puddings and such. This recipe infuses chocolate pudding with guajillo chiles and cinnamon which, as any unfortunate person will tell you, is delicious.

If you are the kind of person who enjoys reading books filled with unhappy words such as "perished," "orphans," "Count Olaf" and "dull dinner," you may need professional help. And while you are sitting in the doctor's office awaiting your turn to talk about your mother, you may want something to read, in which case you could read Lemony Snicket's book. It contains all of those words along with many others, and will supply you with many new things to talk to the doctor about: