Act One, They Meet
(Old Ms. Pac-Man arcade game music here)
Ever since I saw it on an old season of the Great British Bake-Off, I’ve been thinking about the Prinsesstårta. NB: This isn’t quite as sad as it seems. I didn’t start watching GBBO until I got back to London, and I don’t think about this cake every day!
It’s really been in my head since late last month, when I met up for dinner with a Swedish friend and another friend (Welsh, for the record), both of whom raved about the cake and a particular Swedish bakery in London where it’s served. All three of us have similar tastes in dessert -- our WhatsApp group actually is called Crumble Lovers, in homage to a restaurant we like where the apple crumble is so good we threaten to order it as an entrée and then again as a pudding. (For the record – and lest we sound super-piggy -- we stumbled upon the rather unlikely Crumble Mecca because we were in the area for an absolutely brutal VersaClimber class.)
Anyway, I went home after dinner and looked up the bakery. It turns out it’s about a five-minute walk from my counselor’s office. I promised myself one day after an appointment I’d go there.
I wasn’t at all sure I would.
You see, I’m not sure how religiously I ever ate the suggested two puddings a week the dietitian suggested. I think maybe I did at the beginning, though I always behaved with them the way I did about calories on a restricted diet or points when I was on Weight Watchers – I always wanted to bank them. I’d tell myself I was saving them for something amazing – or because I thought I might binge if I used them up early and didn’t have any leeway for several days – and I’d never use them. The rainy day never came, so to speak, but always, inevitably, there’d be a binge.
I realized the other day that I haven’t been eating any puddings. For awhile, it was because I ate so off piste in Thailand that I actually wanted a few weeks of simple, on-plan eating. But then it became: Oh, but I have this trip coming up and then this restaurant and then… Except yes, there always will be something on the horizon. But I realized if I never eat puddings kind of randomly – for no special reason, only because I want them – this is where the restriction and bingeing cycle takes root again.
And so today, even though I would happily have gone home to my regular snack (these days it’s so cold I’m loving porridge, to be honest) – even though I’m feeling so anxious about so many things – I went and bought the Prinsesstårta; braved the fear that it would not be enough, would kick start a binge.
I didn’t buy it to take home and eat where no one could see me do it. I bought a slice on a plate and took it and sat at a table with it, with no phone or magazine out, like I deserved to eat it and wasn’t making any apologies for eating it and wasn’t pretending I wasn’t eating it. I talked to the couple next to me – on a first date, I think – about travelling to Iran. And I ate my cake.
It was divine. I didn’t wish I had more, I didn’t debate buying anything else, and I have felt as good as I can feel tonight, under the circumstances (extreme anxiety about other things.)