I think one of the first things people ask you when they find out you are a chef, or even a cook, is “What is your speciality?” “Speciality!” I used to exclaim. “Well I can drink two sailors under the table and be back to the boat before them in the morning!” After receiving one too many sideways glances it finally occurred to me people were referring to pastry specifically not life in general. At the time I was obviously much more versed in the latter. So in answering their queries, I could not. I was really, truly stumped. There was no speciality. And they were asking a mere cook. Did they think perhaps I worked in an Italian restaurant where I could have been say the zabaglione queen. But this question to me also meant I had to love my “speciality.” So zabaglione queen or not, was there something I saw myself in love with. My alarm clock goes off at 5 am (or I have just gotten in after a night with the sailors) and I jump out of bed singing “zabaglione I must whip you, my day is not complete without you.” No. I really just couldn’t see anything like that. Nothing that I had ever made at that point or for many years after elicited small cries of excitement or longing looks. I do love and have always loved what I do but I’m not a banker or mortgage broker or another job with titles. A job where I can tell you what my speciality is because it says it on my business card. Probably a more fair question is “What’s not your speciality?” How long do you have, we’ll see what’s left after I’m done kind of thing. But alas, love is in the air!

Let’s speak of this love shall we? Cakes. That’s it. Carrot cake, red velvet, lemon pound you ask. No, simply cakes. It’s not the flavor I am in love with. I love them all already. To me there is nothing finer than a really good cake. I don’t mean the mousse filled glazed affairs, either. Those are beautiful and complicated and I do enjoy making them. But if I am eating a cake, I want a cake. A toothsome one like the ones I grew up on (except the ones I grew up on were filled with funfetti and artificial strawberry flavoring!). It doesn’t even have to be a 3-layer cake. Just cake and buttercream or chocolate frosting or cream cheese or curd. It’s about the layers of goodness not so much as what comprises them. I just want every layer of it to be delicious. No syrup dredged cake for me. If a cake is dry, it’s dry. Syrup won’t make it moist. It will make it a wet dry cake and maybe some people like to believe that is a good contrast, but I am not one of them. One of my strong beliefs is that if you don’t like cake it’s because you have never had a good one.

And I like the decorating. Probably because they are all different. A little bit of me, a little bit of the recipient in each one. I like the fact the cakes are for celebrations. My favorite part is when I deliver them and the box is opened and I see a big smile. And sometimes a hint of happy tears. Those are maybe the real reasons for my love of cakes. The old memories of them and the new ones they are making, I may be on my way to answering one very complicated question.

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