Wednesday, 29 September 2010

To keep me busy and happy

There are many reasons why I enjoy baking: the memories that resurface thanks to the chocolate cake raising in the oven, the stress relief that only kneading and punching the cinnamon roll dough can provide, that idea of "eating with my own eyes" that belonged so much to my granny. And that belongs to me as well now, as a form of legacy that is passed on and on in the family.

Baking to me has a lot to deal with balance. It needs focusing and paying attention: you need to know when to add what, how to whisk this and that, how to set the oven. It seems to me that if I can get the balance right in a cake, I have a good chance of getting it in life too.

So, when I feel something is off in my life, when I fear I'm losing balance between parts of my life, I resort to baking. In a way you could say that, the expanding waistlines and the above the limit percentage of body fat some of my colleagues have been complaining about recently, can be partially blamed on my small and big problems at finding direction and balance.
I feel unrest? I bake and I find peace.
I'm unhappy? I bake and I smile again.

Baking is not an "easy" thing. The directions to bake a cake might be easy, the assembling of a cookie straightforward. But baking is not easy in itself: "easy" is most of the time a cheat that will not taste as good as it should and will leave no memory at all.

Baking wouldn't be something enjoyable if it were easy: it demands care and patience. Like with all the passions one has in life, it requires commitment, love and strength to endure big failures and criticism.

There are reasons and emotions that draw me to baking that I can't put into words, no matter how much I try to form a sentence. It seems motives and feelings are just too big to fit in small space allowed by consonant and vowels, they just burst out of boundaries.

Not that it really matters to me, naming everything I feel.
When we were kids, Adriana didn't like eating soup at all. She loathed the idea and would start looking upset and get a frown on her face when my mum would start putting the soup together. At the end though she would eat it. My mum would look at us and then make a magic want gesture with her hands. "ZipitiZap! There, I just added my magic ingredient, mum's love. Now it is the best soup you'll ever, ever, ever eat". The trick worked magic each time, really, and the soup was eaten.

I truly believed that my mum was magic, a bit like Mary Poppins and she could make everything taste better thanks to her love (well, almost everything: the oven roasted broccoli and cheese bake is still a dreaded memory for the whole family).
And I truly believe that baking is about that magic feeling, it's the warm feeling I get in my bones, mind and heart and much more.
It's something I do at my best for people I care about. Ok, let's be honest: I can be a little tiny weeny bit mean sometimes, but then I try to make up for it.
I always think about what the people I'm baking for might enjoy the most, what they might like to try or have once more.

I take it very seriously, perhaps too much sometimes. It's one of the things that will get me upset: "oh well, how hard can it be? It's JUST a cake!", "oh no, I wasn't thinking about cookies, they have no wow effect and are just so plain!"...

So, what has kept me balanced and happy no matter what recently?

Just the strudel that Marina ate even if it was filled with raisins and she doesn't like them.
Just the small apple cinnamon and walnut cakes, made with the part of mix that didn't fit in the muffin tray.
Just the ciambella that I had to cut beforehand in order not to crush it on the bicycle ride.
Just the "fette biscottate" (a kind of Danish toast), that still lacks the right shape but it's spot on taste-wise.

Oh and this:

eat me

They might not have the "wow effect" (whatever it is), but Noriko can't bring herself to eat the last 2 man and wife on her desk. And to me this is more than "wow", if you can understand what I feel. Can you?

Disclaimer: this post may have sounded like a proper full rant. Well it is! :-D This means that the vast majority of you won't understand what the hell I'm about; few of you might have some idea about it and will nod your head; if you get upset it's because you got a guilty conscience. And guess what? I don't care. :-)

1 comment:

  1. We love your baking! It makes the office feel more like a home, rather than a bedrock of corporate greed and avarice.