Afternoon Tea The Fruity Cook: Have Cake, Will Travel

Monday, October 22, 2007

Have Cake, Will Travel

Cake is a passport to many social occasions.
Arrive bearing a cheerfully decorated, freshly-baked
confection and you will have a talking-point to ease
you into any situation.

This I learned from being an exchange student in France.
Teenagers are relatively monosyllabic by nature.
Send them to a foreign land to learn a new language and
it's the equivalent of seeing them struck dumb.

My first experience "chez les français" was nerve-racking,
until they started to let me cook and, expecially, bake.
Having indicated that everything in the French kitchen was
absolutely superior to anything "le monde anglo-saxon" had to
offer, I resorted to writing home for a recipe for "le Cake",
or, as Madame insisted on calling it "le Kek".

We made cake morning, noon and night. Being used to
leaving a fine cake to mature for several days, if not
weeks, I was faced with a lady of a certain age, much more
vocal than I and with a will of iron, who whipped my precious
cakes out of the oven and shoved them, without a "by your leave",into the 'fridge
to cool them down in time for her "Afternoon Tea". This was a
Proustean event, involving discussing interior furnishings
with the ladies of the neighbourhood, a subject on which
I had no vocabulary, and even less interest.

I quickly learned French, as I was socialising daily with
one of the most chatty and lively-minded group I had ever met,
who spent hours at table.

Even learned to make a "Bras de Venus", which to ordinary
punters is a "Swiss Roll".

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