The soufflé and the fedora

The chocolate soufflé is the most difficult dessert to make, I’m told. Government is like making a soufflé, brushing the ramekin, (bet you have to Google that one; I did) with butter, freezing them overnight and then melting the chocolate properly. From mixing the ingredients properly and in the right order to baking exactly at the right height in the oven the process is daunting and time consuming. Then the blasted thing doesn’t rise. The one and only time you’ll try that one, right.

The Feds have barely mixed the right ingredients, much less had any bill rise enough for the legislature to show off their baking prowess.

The state General Assembly has had some luck, but somehow when they’re about to serve their wonderfully swelled confection, it’s like a birthday balloon popped by the rotten kid from down the street. You can hear the wussh as the air leaves the balloon and the  soufflé shrinks like the “Wicked Witch of the West” after being dowsed with water.

By the time the Governor-signed General Assembly bill, the deflated soufflé gets to us, we stick out our tongue, taste it and spit it back on our plate.

Locally, our elected officials have better luck, they don’t try to make a delicate soufflé, they hit Kroger’s and pick up a box cake, one of those cans of frosting, read the instructions and in about 35-minutes, the cake is ready to cool, frost and serve. Most of the time, it turns out delicious, but that’s because even though the recipe is simple, all the ingredients are added carefully.

It’s not easy pleasing everyone at the table. Some won’t have dessert no matter what it is. “Whew, I’m too stuffed for dessert; I ate too many of those mutton chops, and that mint sauce, oh my God.” Leaning over to his wife he says, “Those store bought cakes are just so sweet; they hurt my teeth.”

Locally, everyone wants to add their own flavor and when it’s done, the taste can be wonderful, but other times it tastes like a carrot cake made with onions.

But the procedure of making a good confection is listening. Listen to all the opinions before mixing the batter, putting it in the pan and slipping it into the oven. Those who recommend extra baking powder, extra eggs and salt in the batter and a beautiful caramel icing can add up to a pretty cake, but it is what is inside, that can make a homemade cake with a lovely exterior so hard to swallow. But for some, they have to just hold their nose and swallow.

Some of our working friends are forced to eat the hard, bitter, tasting cake on the inside. And then they’re stuck with rotten teeth and no ticket to the dentist.

Maybe they haven’t had a treat lately, maybe they haven’t been able to afford a dessert in a while or maybe their oven doesn’t work since their power was turned off. No cake for them and a soufflé is so far away they can’t even imagine making one because it takes so much time, and time is a premium in their lives.

There are times when a man can get a cake, borrow it and offer it to his family or even landlord, only to realize that he owes the cake to someone else – the man in the fedora and pointed goatee.

Our desperate friend tells Mr. Fedora that he can’t afford to give him the cake because he has to take a piece to his landlord who he owes more than just one piece of the icing-coated cake. But Mr. Fedora says, “You didn’t give me any cake last month so I’m taking what you have left of your cake and those packages of Ramen noodles you have at home, if you want to take a cake from me, you have to repay me with two cakes, and if you wait too long, the cakes you will have to return… well you can’t afford them.

So our friend gave up his cake and his noodles, and the next month, Mr. Fedora came for another cake and another cake until our friend could not pay for more cake. So Mr. Fedora took our friend’s cake pans, his stirring bowl and his oven. Now, our friend never gets to taste the sweetness of life; he can never think of cake.

Once, when he was passing the bakery, he saw Mr. Fedora at the door of his shop shouting “Let them eat cake… Try one friend?”  

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