On Sunday, Friend Bearing Chocolate became Friend Bearing Cake.
She’d been to cake school (yes, this is a thing), and when we met for coffee she brought me a container (funnily enough, it was for some sort of horrendous sounding no-sugar ice cream that must have been consumed by her housemate) filled with bits of things she’d made.
I looked at it, wondering if it were six servings? Two? Four? The only thing I was pretty sure was that it wasn’t one serving, which is the only way I really knew how to eat such a thing.
It sat on the table like a bomb. I’d so so SO nearly binged the night before, and one of the ways I’d gotten myself not to was to promise myself I would have something worth eating, not the sort of shite one can buy at midnight in Earls Court, after a really awful week and a rather triggering dinner with a newly gluten-free, dairy-free friend (English, but living on the west coast of America) who also doesn’t eat meat and a whole host of other things.
None of these cakes the friend came bearing were things I tend to crave. They were lovely, sure, but with the exception of the mince pie, none were things that would ever be my top choice. I imagined myself trying one and then the next, finishing them all looking for some particular taste none of them offered, and then ending up bingeing.
I thought about them a lot while we had our coffee. I’d throw them out after FBC left, I decided. She would never have to know. I’d done it before and I’d do it again.
And as we were leaving, I hesitated. I do eat everything these days – meaning no weird diets – and though I try to eat things that are worth eating, isn’t homemade cake the definition of that? Plus, part of what keeps me from bingeing, I think, is truly believing I can eat anything – and that I’ll stop believing that if I pass things up too often. The fear of them will solidify, like liquid turning to jelly.
Plus, plus – I also know I can’t, in the moment, eat things I suddenly start craving. I don’t go out and buy something the minute I think about it. If I’m still thinking about it the next day, then I have it. Usually I’ve forgotten about it. But again, what if I stop believing I can have these things – that I will always delay? That’s a binge waiting to happen. (In case you’re curious, I’m perfectly fine eating unplanned things at restaurants. But I don’t in the middle of the day get up and leave my house and go buy, say, Ottolenghi cake just because I think I have to have it. I know; it’s complicated. I’ve spent 16 months trying to work all these things out.)
Anyway. Just as we were leaving I said to FBC: “I have to ask you something.”
She looked worried.
I confessed I had no idea how to eat the cake tapas, which is what I’d mentally nicknamed the box.
I saw her face: Slightly shocked. But she recovered fast. Then matter-of-factly she suggested what she’d do, and the order in which she’d eat them (some would go off faster than others, which I wouldn’t know – when have I ever kept cake in my house long enough for it to go off?)
And so I had three days of cake. It was delicious. And fully worth the 30 seconds of embarrassment.