Wedding Cake Sonnet and Quarter Life Crisis

June 25, 2009

I felt like I was jumping in without my floaties.

You don't have much of a life vest in these situations. When people expect cake, there is only the option to provide cake. Execution is everything.

My sister got married this past weekend with little more than one month's notice. We scrambled to find vendors, flowers, dresses, invitations, photographers amongst other things. I did the cake. She had visions of strawberry dreams.

And though I guess I would've hoped for more time to prepare, there comes a point where you have to flip the bird at the curmudgeonly old woman bullying her way around the cake supply store and just dive in.

So I did.

I am not sure if it was the short notice or the need for Chinese people to feel as if they saved a buck or towo, but we ended up outsourcing to non-professionals, ourselves. As a collective, we took on vocations that were not our professions. Some of us had already been trying bloom into the trades assigned since before the dawn of the wedding, while others were downright novices.

I am reminded of my roommate’s motto from her tumblr, faketv: “fake it until you make it”

I recently reached my quarter century, and as I look around, I think to myself: “What the fuck am I doing?” What am I doing here? How do I forge a career that, unfortunately, remains unwritten? What tools do I have and how do I harness them? I’ve gone to school, I’ve studied chemistry. I have honed the skills and the pragmaticism I was taught. I have translated them into my cooking, meticulous baking as if I were back in the lab. I’ve learned the practice of being anal.

But, how do I fake it until I make it?

We had another great pre-professional there for the wedding, photographer Carmen, who I found through a friend. A large supporter of those who are trying to create their own profession, I pushed for her involvement. Much like most of my friends here in SF, we were all stepping up to a plate for which we had no precedent.

And then it dawned on me. That’s what happens when you grow up. You are pushed into positions that are unknown, that make you instinctively shirk back. But if you have the passion, you are somehow tickled giddy with anticipation. I know that it is obvious, but it intrigues me. Kasia does media, Scott does music recording, Jacky too does food, Megan and Jenny do writing, Andrew does bikes, Lisa writes.

I hope we make it.

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The idea that I had to assemble a cake from scratch with no defined recipe, in less than 36 hours, made my blood tango. My sister challenged me with a strawberry cake, for which published recipes were just not good enough, not powerful enough.

The day I baked, I barely ate. Unlike other wedding cakes I had made, I only had the weekends to prepare. I made up my own recipe and I tested iterations a total of 7 times. I developed a bulge on my stomach from tasting that I proudly wear with satisfaction. I became paralyzed with worry when my perfect cream cheese buttercream didn’t come together. I cradled three boxes of cake while my frosting expert, Ariana, drove me over the steepest hills in San Francisco to the restaurant. I felt them shift around like the things that go bump in the night. I double parked for 40 minutes in Chinatown while Ariana and I tag teamed it up 6 floors to the restaurant in order to finish the cake. I ran in and out of the Empress of China, floured sweatpants and all, as if the was a fire in the disco.

In my spare time I shed tears of nostalgia when ruminating upon the bride, groom and their little girl. I settle on a speech jogging the highlights of their 10 yr courtship, and how, somewhere along the way, their faking house became reality.

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We finished the cake 15 minutes before the reception started. And hell did I fake it.

I fucking faked it to the point that people asked for seconds and thirds. I fucking faked it to the point where people brought leftovers to picnics the next day. I faked it to the point where the strawberry cake turned out flavorful and moist; the swiss meringue cream cheese buttercream, light and perfect, never made stale through refrigeration.

The cake was my strawberry dreams, hopefully one that I shared with my sister, the radiant bride. Incidentally, somewhere along the way we too made it too; whether it was a novice florist manually opening flower buds by the hundreds, or myself, sewing 100 buttons to party favors full of French Laundry vanilla bean shortbread.

7 comments:

Arcenia said...

Cool Pic.

Arcenia said...

This cake was the BOMB!!!!! So yummy!!!!!

Ahmed said...

Very cool pic.

isabellypepper said...

I am so happy to finally read this. What a triumph. May you fake it over and over again, until you realize you ain't fakin' no more.

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing. You DID it!!! I love the phrase "pre-professional". You've proven yourself!And now -- watch it fly!

cantopopstarfish said...

that's a sick picture!!!!!!!

cantopopstarfish said...

also - the cake was amazing.

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