Yesterday was the annual block party on my street.
It was a great time, overall. There were games and a bouncy house for the kids, Mr. Twistie’s band played for the adults, though several toddlers were quite fascinated, too. Everyone came out of their houses and chatted with neighbors they hadn’t gotten to know well, yet. Mr. Twistie and I met the newest family on the block, who were quite charming people with an adorable small daughter and great taste in music. What? They loved Mr. Twistie’s band!
I spent the entire week prepping for this shindig in the kitchen. If you’ve read more than one of my missives here on this blog, then you know how I love to cook and especially bake. I pulled out all the stops. For this year’s party I made: apricot scones, a sweet ricotta galette, a white chocolate layer cake filled with homemade lemon curd and frosted with lemon buttercream, and a malted milk ball tart. I hasten to add that last one isn’t made from malted milk balls. It just tastes like one. Yes, I love to make desserts. Also, I make amazing desserts.
There were oohs and ahs as I brought out goodie after goodie. And yes, I oohed and ahed over many of the fabulous savory dishes on the table. BTW, if the creator of that incredible cucumber avocado salad with the ginger vinaigrette is reading this, I will not rest until I have the recipe. I could eat that endlessly.
So what’s the problem? Well, as I brought out my desserts, amid the gasps of wonder and delight, it seems I brought an unintentional passenger along to the table: body shame.
Yep, faced with lots of delicious sweet options, many people just could not deal with the situation without informing me that they couldn’t have any of them because they might ZOMG! get fat. Or fail to lose weight. One bite of cake might turn them into the Goodyear Blimp. And every single one of them chose to tell me how fattening my desserts were.
It’s not like I cared if someone chose not to eat one of my desserts. There were a lot of options on the table, both sweet and savory. All I wanted was to provide something delicious for people who enjoy delicious food. I don’t know who’s on a diet or who has a gluten sensitivity, or even who just isn’t big on sweet things. Eat it, don’t eat it, we’re cool. It’s not like I could have tasted everything out there, either. It was a truly table-straining repast. I tried a little of a lot of things, but I was full before I could eat some of everything, and there were things I passed on because they didn’t appeal to me.
But as my desserts were disappearing at record rate, I heard plenty of clucking about how eating desserts is a bad thing. I actually had a woman tell me that the reason her son is thin is because he stops eating when he’s full. I leveled a stare at her and said: “So do I. I just come from a long line of fat people. That’s why I’m fat.”
In the end, I brought about two slices of cake back… and three dishes that bore only crumbs and a trace or two of whipped cream. Since I hadn’t gotten a slice of cake at the party, I had one as a midnight snack. I’ll probably finish off the other slice for dessert tonight. Chances are high that I won’t be making another layer cake for weeks, maybe even a couple months.
And next year I will spend another week in the kitchen baking my heart out because I enjoy doing it and because there are people who have no problem enjoying what I bring out.
But to those who had to tell me how fat they are (and they were – to a woman and to a man – a hell of a lot thinner than I am), please don’t lay your guilt on me. Eat the cake, don’t eat the cake, it’s up to you. You’re all grown up and get to make these decisions for yourselves. But if you make the decision not to eat my desserts, don’t tell me it’s all about how it will make you fat.
I’ll be too busy enjoying all the food – savory and sweet – to give a damn about your waistline.