I made a carrot cake for my wife on Sunday. It looked just like the one pictured, only the plate that I served it on was white porcelain, with a peacock painted on its surface. And there were no nuts. Three fifths of my family are allergic.
No frosting either. And there was only one layer, not three. I’m no showoff.
But I made it myself with ingredients that I bought from the store. No boxes were opened in the baking of my cake. Betty Crocker’s fingers weren’t up in that bowl. Just three solar yellow eggs, some brown sugar, all purpose flower and carrots. And love.
A long time ago my wife told me that her father used to make carrot cakes. They had gained some renowned in their Staten Island apartment, but she had never tasted it. Her father is a traditional man, who made traditional carrot cakes. Carrot cakes unfit for a child with nut allergies.
I remember thinking that his act had an edge of cruelty to it. Create something delicious, only to make it lethal for one of your loved ones.
I had to bake her a carrot cake. I filed it away for years. It was on my relationship bucket list, below a real honeymoon, but above ballroom dancing classes. Had I known how easy it is to bake, I would have crossed it off sooner. It had to wait while a perfect domestic storm brewed. A beautiful day, not much to do, hours before dinner… let me go to Kroger to get some vanilla extract.
The mix was too wet. I used too much yogurt. While everyone else ate roasted chicken around the coffee table, I waited in the kitchen. Because the directions were precise. Between 20 and 24 minutes at 350 degrees. At minute 25 I stuck a fork in. It came out wet and gummy. I tried again at 27, and again at 30.
It was good, though. Moist, with a hint of spices that was more complicated than the artificial box cakes that I’m used to. My wife and I ate about a quarter of it. My step son passed. “No Thanks.” My step daughter took a slice. Her nose crinkled. She ate that sliver, and then said, “um… It’s okay.” Her polite was of saying, “Yuck.” Inside I did a fist pump.
About 20 minutes later she gave it another taste. And liked it. A lot. She had a few more small pieces, and then took some with her to school. All of the pieces were small. The net impact was large. The next morning, when we came downstairs, what remained of that poor cake was small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.
And then I realized why Michelle’s dad had never made a carrot cake without nuts. Because, to put it plainly, there are some things that are between a man and his wife. Like carrot cake. And while you can’t tell a thirteen year old girl, “no, you can’t touch that. That’s for old sexy people…” You can make it unpalatable, or yucky… or a little bit lethal.
I don’t normally write about food. I was inspired about the 300 sandwiches blog.
Here’s the hook. This woman in Brooklyn makes her boyfriend 300 sandwiches, and then he propose to her. Much has already been written about it. They always remark that she is attractive. Which she is. And only ugly chicks have to work to maintain and build a relationship. Right?
She has been criticized for a number of things, but most of it comes down to the notion that it is demeaning for her to do something so…mundanely subservient. I admit, the guy sounds like a bit of an ass. But that’s her man, and she isn’t the first woman to want to jump the broom with a douche. If she wants to exchange a bunch of bread and meat for a wedding ring, that’s her business.
But to hell with the ring. By the time she hits sandwich 300, this woman will have a book deal, a show in the Cooking Network and a movie. Some of the people throwing stones at her and her relationship – built on a firm foundation of sandwiches – are probably mad because they didn’t think of it first. I know I am.
If I could change this blog to, “Where’s My Carrot Cake Motherfucker!!!” I would. Instead I’ll continue to bake carrot cakes in anonymity. Continue to have my 13 year old take the lion’s share while my wife and I sleep. Carrot cake is easy. Life is hard.