Crumbs, studies and pastiches.

by Antonis Katsouris

Little by little the smell
of Kate’s burning cake
spreads in the fresh country air.*

It took me almost an hour to burn 30 songs onto a CD for M., but I just can’t leave her without music. She likes to listen to these lost songs from the sixties in the kitchen when she bakes cakes for her small patisserie. And sometimes she borrows their titles to give the strangest names to her cakes … Riki Tiki Cake, Blueberry Blue Cake, Color Your Daytime Cake, Mellow Yellow Cake, 10.000 Sunsets Cake, Misty Mirage Cake… My favorite one, full of psychedelic calories and dangerously fattening, is the Fat Angel Cake. She bakes it every Monday and Thursday.**

A spring picnic. What a marvellous idea! The day is perfect. What shall we take with us? All the good things. The small portable ice box with two bottles of white chilean wine. The basket with the chicken sandwiches, the carrot pie, the cake that I’ve just baked and the hot tea thermos. Paper plates, forks and knives, and lots of napkins too. But we can’t go on a picnic without a tablecloth and a car. Do you have a car?

My older sister wears her checked dress; for dad.
My older sister lets her hair to grow long; for dad.
My older sister prunes the garden roses; for dad.
My older sister knits a grey cardigan; for dad.
My older sister returns home early every Saturday night; for dad.
My older sister makes her super Sunday cake; for dad.

(a folk tale)

In the small village I come from, on the first week of May all the girls who reach marrying age have to pass the test of a secret recipe. They bake the groom’s cake and if it doesn’t rise, then it is taken as incontrovertible proof that the girl who baked it is not a virgin anymore -and then what groom would ask her to be his bride? This May I’m not a virgin anymore, but I am an apprentice witch. And my cake will rise of course, as it will rise every May; though this is not important to me. After all, a serious witch never gets married. And if she truly wishes so, she can have all the males of the village. And if she truly wishes so she can have all the children of the village.

I found the table as we’d left it the night before. With the wine bottles, the glasses, the dishes with crumbs from T.’s cake, the flowers that A. had brought (white and yellow carnations), the eyeglasses that P. probably forgot, and next to them my fortune cookie from the chinese take-out. At last night’s cookie game we decided to read them aloud by adding the phrase “in bed” at the end. Ι won easily -a suspiciously subversive “fortune” for a rare monogamous male like me … “Now is the time to try something new” – “in bed”. Everybody laughed knowingly except me and T.. I smiled at him and kissed him. I’ll try it with you, I whispered.**

Like a pebble
Kate’s cocoa cake is sinking
in the transparent water of the swimming pool.*

If Emily Dickinson was a cake, she would be a lemon cake.
If Susan Sontag was a cake, she would be an almond cake.
If Marguerite Yourcenar was a cake, she would be an Academy cake.
If Jacqueline Susan was a cake, she would be a Vanity cake.
If Virginia Woolf was a cake, she would be Kate’s cocoa cake.
If Joan Didion was a cake, she would be a cake with no sugar.
If Ann Sexton was a cake, she would be a cake-with-no-mercy.
If Katherine Mansfield was a cake, she would be a ginger cake.
If Sappho was a cake, she would be a pergamont cake.
If Gertrude Stein was a cake, she would be a cake-well-is-a-cake.

May I offer you some cake?

It was a rainy Tuesday when this rather cute and harmless incident happened. I felt sorry -perhaps too much so- for the drenched postman and I invited him for a quick hot tea which I served on the round table at the entrance hall along with some cake that I bought yesterday from M.. I asked the young courier not to call me “sir”, and as we were making small-talk about the news of the neighborhood, the domestic “accident” happened. A small piece of cake fell on his trousers and I instinctively kneeled to clean it with a napkin. And, without wanting to, I touched lightly his own “cake” – although, thinking back, it might have been just my imagination. I thought that he was turned on but maybe it was just my idea, although he definitely blushed and looked at me with eyes full of embarrassment. We ended our chat as if nothing happened, we started for the door, I reminded him not to call me “sir”, and I told him that there is cake every Tuesday and Friday. It was not raining anymore and I hurried to the phone to call M. and tell her the news about the success of her cake and that from today on I am the second member of the postman’s fan club. The first member is M. as it goes for almost all the fan clubs we have already created; ten or maybe more, one for every unknown young attractive man of our uneasily quiet suburb.**

Make somebody happy today-bake a cake!
A chocolate cake for the man in your life.
Or a white cake with peppermint frosting for “the girls” coming for bridge.
Make a sponge cake for Grandma, as lovely-light as the kind she used to bake.
Bake a cake-have a party.
Bake a cake to take to a party.
Bake a cake just because you feel good today.***

Kate fails for the sixth time
to bake a simple cake
and decides to change her small oven.*

I’ve made up my mind. The older I get the more I hate winter. I consider it my enemy and a very serious threat to my activities and moods, and I’m not ruling out at all the possibility of going into hibernation at a more advanced age. And today the winter that seemed to have forgotten us returned uninvited threatening us with frost and snow. My reaction was predictable; I subjected T. to my hypothermic hysteria. I strictly forbade him to bake his seasonal cakes again. The ones he usually stuffs with dried fruits and nuts so as to remind him of his childhood in that hyperborean land where he was born.
Not even one?, he asks.
I don’t need any of your forest products to be your little bear, I answered him and returned to bed.**

If you have already failed in all of your efforts to arouse the erotic and sexual desire of a new person you’re attracted to, or to rekindle the spark of a fading passion, then don’t get disappointed too fast… You have one last chance to succeed by following the magic recipe below – under its spell that person will be truly unprotected and vulnerable.

Choose a Friday night and start!
First make a poppy seed cake in a round pan. Bake it and let it cool.
In the centre of the cake’s circle light a purple candle and let it burn for nine minutes offering its flame to god Pluto.
Now write down in a pink sheet of paper the name of the person, the number 22  and the symbols for sun, moon, bird and wind.
Burn the paper in the candle flame.
Take its ashes, the candle and the cake and bury them in the east side of a park or a garden.
Repeat the spell for three weeks at the same time and day with devotion, faith and patience.

With a Chios kerchief over her hair
Kate is trying again and again
to make a proper mastic cake *

* From the 33 Haikus for Kate, 2011.
** From A.N.’s Diaries, 2001-2010.
*** From Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1950.

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