martes, 17 de mayo de 2011

The family cake (A story on the cooking oil' shortage)

Our "family cake" is famous. We inherited the recipe from my grandmother and we haven't done a different cake ever since. This cake has been my constant companion for endless birthdays and meetings. When I first went to lunch at my boyfriend' house, I brought the "family cake" and I'm sure this had a lot to do with me being accepted as part of his family. There is something different and truly special about this cake, about its soft texture and its sweet (but not so sweet) taste.

Like all good cakes, it has a "key ingredient". We don't keep our recipe as a "family secret" but we won't reveal the "key ingredient" until everyone has tasted the cake. We have a reason for it: as soon as we reveal it, everyone puts ugly faces exclaiming how gross and weird it is to use that for a cake. Most don't believe us, they think we still keep a secret, and hence, never try what we do at home.

The key ingredient is (drums roll, please): cooking oil. That's right, cooking oil. No, we don't "fry" the cake as someone once dared to suggest (he was weird, not us). We simply use cooking oil (vegetable oil) instead of butter. And it might be not like that where you are,- I have seen many online cake recipes using cooking oil- but here, a cake without butter simply strike many housewives and cookers. That's why, strange as it sounds, the recipe has remained exclusive for all this year; as my family tradition. A tradition which now could be questioned.

With a serious cooking (vegetable) oil shortage and with my nephew' birthday coming soon; the cake has been a worrisome topic at home. My sister tried making a cake using butter and it tasted weird. Like bad- weird. Perhaps she did something wrong or more likely, we are simply not used to cakes made with butter. Let's face it: for us butter and cake don't go in the same sentence. Those cakes are heavier and look way too yellow. The second possibility is to buy one; but that's an insult to my "cake Masters" (self given title, that's for sure) family.

While we search, supermarket after supermarket, popular markets and convenient stores for a bottle of cooking oil (we need even less than that for one cake); my nephew plays around the house wearing a weird blue-red outfit. He screams: "Don't worry, I'm going up there to save you!" - then he raise his arms and makes the fumiest sound ever. For him there are no shortages, or crisis, or revolution. For him there is just a world as big as our home, filled with "people in danger" (actually, toys in danger) which he must save.

He's clueless (and he should be clueless) about all those things we adults worry about; the things - we hope - he will know by asking us for old stories or by reading them in history books.

And he probably won't even care whether his cake is the usual "family cake" or not; as long as it has a Spider-man figure and four little candles on top.

PS: The image was taken from here. No copyright infringement intended

3 comentarios:

  1. Well, the one and only reason why we have cooking oil in our house it's because my mom is friends with the owner of the store where we buy meat and other things, such as oil. Whenever she (the owner) gets oil, she always hides a couple of bottles (sometimes, though very very rarely, up to 4 liters!) for us.

    Now, I've seen some street people (that is, people who sell stuff at the street :p) that must be hellishly enchufados (hooked-up with some honcho), cuz once I found a small stand on the street that had in front of it BOXES, SEVERAL BOXES of the following:

    Aceite Mazeite (cooking oil)
    Arroz Mary Superior (nice rice)
    Leche La Campesina (powdered milk)

    Expropiese, anyone? :S

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  2. Julia, and the recipe???? XD
    Cariños!

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  3. Oye, Julia. Really, all this talk of cake made me hungry, chica!

    Share the recipe!

    I remember a friend used to make her cake with either "Frescolita" or "Fanta Piña" soda pop. The gas in the soda made the cake very airy and sweet, but it was good.

    If you can't find cooking oil, but can find margarina, you may be able to get close to the recipe you so love.

    The milk solids in the butter need to be broken down by mixing with the sugar before you put anything else in. SO you need to beat the butter and sugar very well so that it is creamy. Using cold butter will not work, the butter needs to be a room temperature for the creaminess to be just right.

    That being said, one day I hope to share your family cake with you and yours in a much better future than the present we have today.

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