Friday, March 2, 2012

Cake: A Reflection

I've had so many moments of clarity thus far in my cleanse. Not really epiphanies or big realizations but lots of thoughts on how to improve my life and relationship with food after I come off this cleanse.
Random story:
Every year my Grandma Welling's church has a Mother-Daughter banquet around Mother's Day. It's in the musty church basement. They serve leathery roast beef, butter-slathered vegetables, a moderately decent salad (hey, I won't knock the whole meal), coffee, tea and cake.
If my memory isn't failing me, my Aunt was pregnant at the time so I had to have cousin is 19, I'm 24 so I was no older than 5...wait...really? I remember this and I was 5?
Anyhow, I don't know why but my mom never insisted I eat cake with a fork, I was always allowed to simply pick up my piece of cake and take bites from it setting it down and picking it up with my hands again. My Aunt corrected my rude behavior by telling me I should be eating my cake with a fork. I don't remember the exact words she said but whatever they were, I was incredibly hurt by them and retreated to the bathroom to cry.
What 5 year old knows that the bathroom is the designated crying area? I thought I was older than 5 but I thought the reason my aunt snapped at me was because of pregnancy hormones and I don't remember the baby being around...who the hell knows.
Anyhow, that's my first unpleasant memory of this American (as far as I understand it) social phenomenon known as CAKE. Since my childhood, cake just hasn't been my favorite dessert. Sometimes I won't eat it because it's dry but I don't really get excited about decently baked cakes. My non-favoritism for cakes has even been subject to criticism. In the same day I told someone I'm not fond of cake and I don't really watch a lot of movies, he responded by asking "What else don't you like? Freedom?!?!" When considering having some other sort of dessert at my wedding (don't get too excited, nothing is official) I had a friend threaten to not attend if I wasn't going to have cake!
Cake is served at birthday parties along with ice cream! Then if you're at a really good party, you get to whack a pinata until candy comes cascading out of its body. Then you run and grab the candy and eat MORE SUGAR.
Cake is served at weddings. The bride and the groom hold the knife together and then simultaneous jam it in eachother's mouth.
::EDIT:: Apparently I didn't re read the above sentence, how hilarious! What it is supposed to have said is, "The bride and groom hold the knife together to cut the first tiny slices of their wedding cake and then simultaneous place the slices in one anothers' mouths to signify that they will feed one another for the rest of their lives. How cute.
When a well liked employee is leaving the company, there's cake. Mothers' day: cake. Baby shower: cake. Valentines day: cupcakes.
What is it with special occasions and cake? It's not like cake is all that exotic. It has a light and fluffy body and it's topped with frosting. It's the same basic flavor from bite 1 to bite 7. Or if you're my boyfriend, bite 17. might still be bite 7 because he takes pretty generous forkfuls. Oh sure, you can decorate it with fancy pictures, frosting flowers and basically have every single color present on your celebratory customized for the occasion cake.
But when it comes to sweets, I would really rather enjoy a dense fudgy brownie. Or a well made chocolate truffle. Or hand made tiramisu. How about a perfectly textured chocolate chip cookie?
Or maybe cake is a more communal thing. It's one big mass of sugar and flour that becomes cut up so that everyone in the room can be eating a piece of something from the same unit. Truffles might just be too isolating. Who wants to be deserted during dessert?
If that's the case why don't we celebrate things with something else communal like a big pot of chilli? Oh right. You can't decorate chilli with a picture of me at age 4. Plus if someone has already had lunch or dinner, who would want to consume that extra bowl of chilli. But there's ALWAYS room for dessert right? Cake can make a great breakfast even, especially paired with coffee!
I can think of plenty of things I would rather eat than cake. But there just doesn't seem to be anything else you can decorate, customize, write things on and easily make in large quantities so that you can divvy it up. Everyone who partakes of the cake is celebrating the same person or people being honored with the cake. So if you refuse a piece for reasons other than an honest-to-goodness physical intolerance for one of the ingredients (gluten sensitivity, diabetes), you're being rude.
During this cleanse, I'm thinking of doing away with a number of things that have been present in my diet for the sake of my health and well being. Two of those are white flour and white sugar. I can honestly say I'd LOVE to commit whole heartedly to giving those up...

But there will always be cake.

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