03 March 2014

Carrot Cake

Carrot cake reminds me of those educational computer games for children designed to make learning fun, like Reading Rabbit Oregon Trail: it always seems like a cheap way to disguise something that’s “good for you” with something you already enjoy.  But where Reader Rabbit and Oregon Trail succeed at least at being fun, if not being entirely educational,* carrot cake succeeds at nothing and fails at everything: it is neither a delicious sweet-treat, nor a delicious carrot-treat.  It seems unlikely that the history of carrot cake has anything to do with a frustrated mother trying to get her bratty kid to eat his vegetables for once, but it still kind of feels that way and it’s kind of insulting.  The cake is actually called carrot cake—you’re not fooling anyone.
Okay. Nevermind. I just Wikipedia’d it. It turns out that 1) carrots have been a common sweetener ingredient since the middle ages (which, for the record, is not a good period of time from which to get cooking tips) and 2) that carrot cake probably became popular during WWII because of sugar shortages.  (Also worth mentioning: weird conspiracy-theory posits that some sort of canned-carrot baron, George C. Page, actually manufactured the popularity of carrot cake in order to unload his “glut” of canned carrots in the US following WWII).  What we can take from this is that people use carrots for baking when they don’t have access to sugar.  I don’t know what the grocery stores are like in your area, but mine is pretty well-stocked with various sugar options.

It might surprise some of you that there was actually a time in my life when I liked carrot cake.  It’s hard to know when I stopped eating it, but thank god I did.**  There have been a few times that I’ve had to eat carrot cake, or have done so by accident. A shudder of horror goes down my spine every time my teeth came into contact with a hard piece of shredded carrot. It’s the same reaction I have to eating shredded coconut.  I’m guessing it’s because I would never actually eat either of these things, so it’s always a really unwelcome shock when I discover that they’re already in my mouth.  Not to make light of a serious issue or anything, but it might be a little bit like being stalked.  You tell someone no over and over and over again, and then one day you come home to find them in your house, lovingly playing with your dog (as if they’ve already been there) and you’re seized by blind terror before you can even process what is going on.  I guess the major difference is that with shredded carrot or coconut, you can just spit it out.  A relevant analogy nonetheless.

Before we get to the poem, I just want to say that I was really strongly inspired by this piece of work.  Poetry truly is the window to the soul.

 Carrot cake is a surprise:
Inside the cake a carrot lies.
Moist shredded carrot all a-glimmer
Embedded in the cake all a-shimmer.

I won’t eat my piece; it’s all for you
It’s too moist and mushy; too much like goo
A whole cake of carrots grated slivery
Is a vegan monster’s notion of heavenly

Its only saving grace is its topping,
But it’s not good enough to stop your moping
Nauseated from head to toe
Try to mask the taste with a cup of Joe

*Was the only learning point in Oregon Trail that life was hard at some point?  Because I feel like instead of just telling me that Ashley died of dysentery, they might have said something like, “Ashley died of dysentery.  It might have been caused by the 4000 pounds of rotting buffalo flesh you’re transporting.  You might also want to consider boiling your drinking water.”

**It might surprise you all to know that there were once quite a few things that I would eat that I no longer will.  I am tentatively working on a post that will hopefully explain the root of my trauma.  If you can’t wait to find out what that root is, the short answer is salmon pie.

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