It is a pretty rare occasion that I do a cake order these days but I couldn’t resist my pal Jenni’s message, a birthday cake request for her dear mom: “She’s obsessed with ‘white cake’, like the normal-est kid birthday cake bought from Safeway kind”… so I made my favourite vanilla cake recipe and went buttercream-rose-wild in her mom’s fave colours for the top – minty green, shades of blue.
I totally get that nostalgic love for birthday cakes of yesteryear. I’ve always loved a sheet cake. I have no snobbery when it comes to cake, or any food. I will eat “low” and I will eat “high.” There is life and stories attached to every morsel. Even a tray of microwaved airplane food, a limp dish of squeaky chicken and carrots in a starchy sauce, or a cold, dry bun under a square plastic lid with a hard pad of salted butter and a flimsy plastic knife to spread it with, and a rectangle of chocolate sheet cake for dessert, eaten on an overnight flight home from NYC, triggers a memory for me – I spent one summer after high school working at the airport in the catering department, a huge warehouse factory pumping out meals and snacks for the airlines, 24 hours a day. You had to wear hairnets and gloves and aprons. I spent an entire eight hour shift once hulling and slicing strawberries – that was considered a good job at the airport! The worst job was “wear-wash” – the dish pit. If the supervisors didn’t like you, you were assigned to this area – I had one shift there the whole summer, hehe. Sauna-hot, a conveyer belt full of dirty trays would rush towards you. Nozzle in hand, you’d have seconds to power-spray all of the old food bits at random, scraps of food and water splattering your face and neck, soaking your apron. It was there when I realized how horrifically wasteful airplane food was, as so many trays would come back barely touched. Shitty food begat non-eating, non-eating begat monumental waste. With my airport summer job money, I purchased my first stereo, with detachable speakers and double cassette and a three-disc CD tray. Many a mix tape was born out of that stereo.
Happy birthday Jenni’s mom!!! xo Lyndsay
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