Today at poetry group, we all had the great good fortune of having a piece of our hostess's Sicilian Cassata, a truly divine cake comprised of two layers of genoise, between them a layer of whipped ricotta studded with candied orange peel and chopped dark chocolate, all covered in a layer of green tea marzipan and decorated with elegant cutouts of candied orange peel and Meyer lemon peel. There was no talking about poems during the consumption of this cake, as it was so elegant, so delicious and complex, it deserved one's complete and rapt attention to its attributes and aspects, making their statements and counterstatements in the mouth. Our hostess is famous for her splendid cakes, but this one was my favorite so far.
This led to a lot of speculation on my part: did the hostess estimate that, on a given day in her household, there was a high probability, a fair chance, or a rather limited chance that there would be some cake, somewhere? What was the cake part of the cake, and what was the filling? We had a brief discussion of the qualities of genoise as the cake in fancy cakes. We also established that Rose Berenbaum Levy's book The Cake Bible is, indeed, the canonical work for cakes. The Meyer lemons came from California. The candied peel cutouts were made with truffle cutters. I think we may have discussed nearly every pertinent aspect of the cake by the time we had all finished, lingeringly, the last bite.
"Thank you for the inspirational cake," I said, as we were leaving.
"You've given Lisa another entry for her cake diary," joked another poet.
"You're assuming I don't actually have one," I said. Which I don't, actually, though I do have a diary of menus and recipes, recording who was present at a party, etcetera, which I use to brainstorm parties and future menus. All of this rumination about cake has led me to the following conclusions:
1. It's time to have a dinner party.
2. That party should involve a delicious dessert, probably cake.
3. I need a copy of The Cake Bible, and probably The Pie and Pastry Bible, as well.
4. How does one manipulate marzipan? (not a conclusion)
5. With regard to how this cake was beautiful and also sublimely delicious:
Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
Listen: it was really, really good cake.