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Friday, November 15, 2013

A Piece of Cake. By John von Daler

                     Ever since my kind and diligent Danish doctor peered over the tops of his round and rimless reading glasses and pronounced, "#Diabetes 2. You've got diabetes 2", I have been nobody's sugar daddy. With the exception of four teaspoons of marmalade every Sunday, plus the portions of sugar that fruit and vegetables may smuggle into my blood, I am as sugar-free as Lady Macbeth.

                Thus I am awkwardly sensitive when the beautiful lady at my favorite coffee salon looks embarrassedly at my little cafe latte as if it somehow were indecently exposed: "Wouldn't you like something with that?" Then she does a slight ballet curtsy and, like a primadonna graciously including her corps de ballet, she swings half around pointing momentarily at each and every of the luscious, but alas for me, untouchable delicacies prancing quietly behind her.
                "No, no thank you", I mutter and, putting my exceedingly unsweetened New York Review of Books under my arm, I retire to her sofaed living room not to read but to stare unreadingly at the paper while, well yes, visions of sugarplum fairies dance in my head.
                In my family it was the Viennese first, after an unnecessary lunch the ladies arising in the afternoon from undeserved naps to play bridge and to nip at Sachertorte rife with hazelnuts and chocolate, which, like Astaire and Rodgers, made up an unbeatable and elegant pair. Then it was the chocolate machine in grandfather Strauss' large immaculately run kitchen: from its grate my father was allowed with one finger to gather up the chocolate icing that somehow had missed all twelve of the intended cakes.
                Then in America it was angelfood, a satisfactory name if ever there was one, and pound cakes, a prophetic name if ever there was one, glorious with syrup. There were lemon merringues too and cherry pies and blackberry cobblers not to speak of pumpkin pies rich with eastern spices and peacan pies with just a dash or two of maple syrup.
                In Denmark they have Danish pastry, called for the sake of confusion Viennese pastry, and raspberry cakes and in Germany they use enough butter to kill a cow to make their strudel.
                But as I say, since my doctor intoned those words I have been on the wagon, or off it, if you will. So I have a right to daydream. Thus you must excuse this literary venture into what hardly could be described as anything other than, you know, what is the word they use to describe allurring ladies? Oh, yes, I remember it now: cheesecake.

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