I visited my friend Amanda Rockman recently in Austin, Texas. She’s taken up residency at The South Congress Hotel, where she fills pastry cases, dessert menus, poolside bars, coffee shops, and an ice cream truck with her brilliant wares.
While we were in the kitchen talking she told me a story about a shirt her older sister gave her for christmas. It says “cake cake cake” on it. A cute gift for a pastry chef, we sure do like cake. Making it, eating it, decorating it, cake cake cake!!!
After months of donning this pastry related garb, she told her cooks it was her new favorite shirts, she just loved wearing it everywhere. One of Amanda’s young cooks pulled her aside. The conversation goes something like this when I retell the story, and these things may or may not have actually been said, but like hollywood, I’ve taken liberties to benefit the plot.
“Um chef? you can’t wear that shirt anymore.”
Amanda looked at her with blank eyes.
“That shirt doesn’t mean what you think it means.”
“What do you mean?” Amanda asked. “It doesn’t mean red velvet cake?”
The cook shook her head back and forth.
“It doesn’t mean lemon chiffon with meringue frosting?” Amanda pressed, knowing this was going somewhere unfortunate.
“Its not pound cake?” Apparently that’s even worse, Amanda discovered from a second line cooks childish and repetitive hand motions.
Thanks to the 2011 release of Rhianna’s song Birthday Cake, Amanda was unknowingly a walking billboard for a sexual act involving someone else mouth and her very own, um, cake.
When she told me this story, which I have since embellished, I almost fell down laughing. And I’ve retold it many times since returning to Chicago. She and I have reached that point where not only does popular culture evade our understanding, but it passes by completely unnoticed. We are growing old, and the kids these days are having the last laugh.
Our perpetually youthful rotation of line cooks educate us to new uses for the words we unwittingly know and use daily. Nope can’t offer someone your milkshake. A trip to the candy shop doesn’t end in a sugar high. And apparently, now, offering someone a bite of your cake isn’t cool either. What’s next? Will asking a cook to fill the cream puffs inspire work, or sideways glances and giggles?
Read Amanda’s post on her own blog Pastrylandia, titled “An Open Letter To Music Writers,” an open discussion about appropriating the wares of our profession to mask the public discussion of genitalia to sell songs.
And if your cooks are giggling in the corner when you talk about one of your baked goods, chances are it now means vagina.