Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Taking the - erm - cake

Today from comes this link to a post at Blogebrity, asking 'Can anyone help explain female bloggers' obsession with baking and eating cupcakes?'

Love the 'all women are the same' rhetoric there. I'd retaliate with some comparable observation about male bloggers but I am too nice. I've never had a cupcake obsession myself, but this post has me intrigued. They conclude that it must be all about sex, because cupcakes look like breasts.

Earth to blokes: it's not women who are obsessed with breasts. (Well, not usually. And it's my understanding that those women who do like breasts prefer them to be attached to a person of some sort.)

The only cupcakes I ever found interesting were the ones called butterfly cakes, one of my mother's specialities circa 1959. This involves delicately cutting out a little cone of cake from the top of a plain cupcake, filling the hole with cream, cutting the removed cone of cake in half and sticking each half upside down into the cream at the angles of ten and two o'clock, so that they look like wings, and yes, I'm fully aware that I'm not explaining this very well. But if cupcakes really are all about breasts, then my preference for butterfly cakes makes me a complete sicko.

The torrent of memory being unleashed as I describe butterfly cakes is making me think I really ought to christen the special tray for making madeleines that I bought years ago from the Gabriel Gaté shop and have never once used, so maybe the blokes at Blogebrity are right and every woman really is just a fool for a petit four. I'll have a go at the madeleines and get back to you, but in the meantime it's really just an excuse to quote Proust (who wasn't interested, BTW, in breasts at all), writing famously on the mysteries of the senses as triggers of memory:

'... one day in winter, as I came home, my mother, seeing that I was cold, offered me some tea, a thing I did not ordinarily take. I declined at first, and then, for no particular reason, changed my mind. She sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called 'petites madeleines', which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim's shell.

... I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate than a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses ...

I place in position before my mind's eye the still recent taste of that first mouthful, and I feel something start within me, something that leaves its resting-place and begins to rise, something that has been embedded like an anchor at a great depth; I do not know yet what it is, but I can feel it mounting slowly; I can measure the resistance, I can hear the echo of great spaces traversed. ...

Will it ultimately reach the clear surface of my consciouness, this memory, this old, dead moment which the magnetism of an identical moment has travelled so far to importune, to disturb, to raise up out of the very depths of my being?'

Sigh. They don't make sentences like that any more -- and that's just the translation.

(There are, of course, no prizes for guessing what this piece of writing is really about. Blogebrity is clearly onto something.)

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