Friday, October 1, 2010

Eat: Late to the party, loving the buttercream

Somehow, I always tend to be a little late to the party.  I watched Sex in the City in late night syndication, I set up my Facebook account a month ago, and last weekend I ate my first fancy bakery cupcake.

When it becomes clear that everybody likes something, I tend to avoid it.  This is partly a contrarian move, but it's also practical, as my tastes tend to be out of step with everybody's.  Until recently (and probably again in the near future), I have been on the losing team during election season.  If I love a television show, it is surely destined for an early demise (and I'm still waiting for the Arrested Development movie).  And since cake is not my dessert of choice, I figured shrinking it and wrapping it in paper wouldn't do much to help.

Thanks to my husband's barber, I realize that I was wrong about that.

She turned him on to the bakery that sold him the cupcakes that showed me that maybe everybody was on to this case.  As it turns out, the cupcake's appeal lies in something bigger than taste.  It's about choice.

My culinary tastes tend to be incompatible with those of the rest of the family, so the autonomy offered by the cupcakes more than makes up for its being cake. Generally, I design our menus to avoid things that they hate, like cheese, tomatoes, artichokes, cream sauces, mushrooms; the list goes on and on and, coincidentally, is nearly identical to the list of items that I most enjoy eating.  But I am outnumbered.

 The cupcakes freed me to eat exactly what I wanted with no guilt or compromise.  I could enjoy my chocolate ganache with peanut butter mousse while everyone else had their cinnamon, lemon or cookies and cream.  Sure, the towering crowns of buttercream were a challenenge after my birthday dinner of spicy shrimp tandoori masala.  And my training run the next morning was somehwhat hampered by my overdose of butter and confectioner's sugar.

It was worth it, though.  Cupcakes, it turns out, are a little taste of culinary independence.  Sometimes everybody has a point.     

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