I like to have a cup of tea in the afternoons, but I don’t always have cake with it. Yesterday, however, I fancied a little treat, so I had a slice of lemon cake to go along with my drink. As I had my first sip of tea, I observed my sweet temptation and wondered: if the heroines of my books were to face this lemon cake now, what would they think?
Clara, from A Deal with a Stranger, has an obsession with food, in particular desserts. She would be right in her element. She would probably pick up the small plate and bring it closer to her face, in order to smell the cake first. Because it’s lemon cake, she would expect to detect the hint of the fruit, and possibly spot some lemon zest in the sponge. Then she would dive into it. Her thoughts would be something like: “Not bad. The sugar on top is lemony too. I would probably have put a layer of lemony cream or crème patissière in the middle, to make it even more palatable, but that’s fine too. I now need a second slice to get a better idea of what it really tasted like.”
Lucy, the more traditional one of my Incompatible Twins, likes to eat good food and is keen on puddings; she wouldn’t say no to a slice of lemon cake. Her thoughts would be along the lines of: “Tea and cake during working hours? Why not? It’s nice to have a treat every now and then, especially after working on the computer all day. Just make sure you don’t make a habit of it. Otherwise, who’s going to fit into that Kenneth Cole dress again?”
Poppy, the more unconventional one of my Incompatible Twins, likes good food too, but is a vegetarian and always very careful about how food is made and what it contains. She would be quizzing the person who brings her the cake, her line of questioning would be something like this: “Thank you for this, but I need to know a little more. Is it made with free range eggs? Is that sugar on top, instead of honey? Were the lemons organic?” Before you’ve even had the chance to reply, she’s already decided that not only she’s not going to eat your cake, but she’s not even going to touch it.
Nonna Pina, who runs the Broken Heart Refuge, will be looking at this slice of cake with a smile. She knows that if you’re feeling a little sad, but you’re in the company of friends, and you’re having a cup of tea all together and are sharing a cake, you are bound to feel a little bit better. It may not be the cake in itself, but the combination of the three things above. What is better than a cup of tea? A cup of tea with cake.
And now, I am curious: what do you think when you look at my slice of cake?