I was born without the instincts for baking; sweet goods, that is, I’ve been known to knead a fine loaf of bread into being. My childhood recollections, from baking sponge cakes that never rose in my mother’s heart-shaped tins – so full of promise, to the rock-hard raisin scones I had to buy to spare myself the embarressment at the school bake-sale, are of disaster. So why then, after thirty years of acceptance, do I find myself attempting to bake apple pie on a Sunday afternoon?
The answer lies in my life-long fear that I don’t fit in. Anywhere.
Yesterday, my good friend went to her son’s school for his orientation tea. She took along a plate of muffins she’d bought at the supermarket. She’d taken them out of their plastic packaging and displayed them on a plate, not because she was trying to deceive, but because you just don’t serve baked goods straight out of the plastic. The orientation went well, until she tried to leave and discovered a bunch of parents hanging around her plate of muffins.
“These are delicious,” one exclaimed. “The best,” another agreed.
Before anyone could ask her for the recipe, my friend laughed and said, “they’re from…,” and she named the supermarket, (something I’m not going to do unless they pay me). Smiles dropped from faces at the speed of bombs falling on Laos during the secret war. Her son is not starting at any old school where bakers day means bringing two rand to school and lining up to buy a store-bought cupcake from a classmate who gets to play baker for the day in a lesson about consumerism. Her son, like my daughter, is going to a Waldorf school. And today is AJ’s orientation tea.
If you follow this blog, you already know that at AJ’s last school, I was labeled the weird mom. I do not want to be the odd one out amongst the weird mom’s at Waldorf. I want to fit in. Hence, I find myself trying to dig the sticky (read failed) pastry made form gluten-free chickpea flour from under my nails on Sunday instead of decanting a perfectly good apple pie from the local SPAR onto a pretty plate and lying through my weird-mom teeth.
Since I am now forty and half my life is done, common sense has prevailed. Life is too short to try and rescue pastry. I’ve abandoned the brown lump that would have Gordon Ramsey using several eff-words to fire me were I trainee chef in his kitchen, and converted my apple pie into a crumble. Anyone can make effing crumble, surely?