Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eating a Cupcake: Lesson from the "He Said" School

First of all, I'd like to lead with saying that it was I who was the generous colleague who provided the Stop & Shop bakery morsels. Additionally, I would like to add that I never got a friggin' Whoopie Pie! They looked perfect -- the 3 days of sweating in the plastic container was just enough to counter the Saharan consistency of the chocolaty discs.

On (another) side note, I'd like to add that I'm generally not a fan of the grocery bakery. My mom was a fantastic baker who spoiled me for life. It should be noted that the cupcakes and whoopie pies were purchased (rather than baked) for a family gathering to meet the Kosher dietary needs of the group -- our kitchen may as well be a porcine slaughterhouse.

Now on to the debate.

First, I have to concede that I wholeheartedly agree with the first 90% of Dawn's approach. Cupcakes suffer from the same fatal flaw as their appropriate-for-breakfast cousins, the muffin. The bottom of both cupcakes and muffins is just too big. Ideal bites consist of a little bit of the bottom and a little bit of the top, but this is physically impossible.

Like Dawn, I like to split the bottom part of the cupcake in half, but then our approaches diverge. I will pop the bottom, non-frosted circle of cake in my mouth, to make way for the true enjoyment that's about to follow. With a shorted bottom, I am now able to eat the cupcake as it was intended, one bite at a time -- a little cake, a little frosting.

Believe it or not, the essence of this discrepancy boils down to the same argument with the pizza (see entries on April 26th) -- it's about how the food enters your mouth. For me, the crux of the enjoyment of eating cupcakes comes from the sweetness of the frosting (sugar and butter -- two of nature's tastiest evils working together). With Dawn's approach, the sweet sensors in your tongue miss out on the initial stimulation when the cupcake enters your mouth. This is a big no-no.

Additionally, while I appreciate the cleanliness of Dawn's approach, she has, IMO, violated a fundamental law -- never let the fear of messiness interfere with the enjoyment of eating.

Happy Cupcaking!


Eating a Cupcake: Lesson from the "She Said" School

Thanks to a generous colleague, a few vessels of grocery store bakery mini-cupcakes arrived just after lunch. After eating a mini-whoopie pie to counteract my greek salad, I opted for the Golden Cupcake variety as a chaser. At that point I engaged in a frosty debate with my fellow food bloggist, Brian. We documented our individual approaches... mine is here.

When you eat a cupcake, no matter the size (mini or regular), there is usually a 2/3 cake and a 1/3 frosting ratio. As most cupcakes are tall, I find myself trying to unhinge my jaw like a python to get the frosting under and past my front teeth (usually unsuccessfully), meanwhile attempting to get the cupcake body in over top of my bottom teeth without changing the angle of the bite. Usually the frosting starts to scrape off while trying to stuff it in my mouth, which sends the following cake into an overcorrected wrong angle (i.e. all frosting followed by cake, eaten tipped towards you at 90 degrees rather than right side up). Forget the fact that many cupcakes have add-ons, which cascade down your shirt and onto every surface within a 3 foot radius. To combat this awkward looking and messy display, I learned a little trick which I'll share.

I split the cupcake portion in half (laterally), and invert the top half (cake and frosting), placing the frosting against the bottom half. This allows you to enjoy the following:
a) frosting is in the middle, no unsightly scraping on teeth - cake will bend or flake effortlessly on top and bottom, or can be compressed by holding it (no mess!)
b) the taste of evenly divided cupcake, 1/3 cake 1/3 frosting 1/3 cake. The frosting is the surprise in the center, my preference.
c) any sprinkles, jimmies, or other items barely stuck to the frosting are now locked in place, not a one scrap lost to the carpet.

Next time YOU have cupcakes, try it! Or heck, use it as an excuse to eat one. Don't forget to comment here on your method of choice, Brian and I are interested in whose approach you all prefer, like, or are opposed to.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Buffet Eggs...

Two words that, while seperately envoke warm feelings of joy, when paired send shivers down the spine of even the most careless dining room patron.

As my close associates can attest to, the biggest "hangup" I have about food is the texture. Buffet eggs not only have a texture (this I can deal with), it's the SOUND of the eggs... that wet, slithery, squishy noise as you dip the monster spoon into the silver chalice of 'henfruit' to select the perfect serving. If you MUST partake of buffet eggs, I've provided a photo guide here of areas to watch out for.
a) the buffet egg puddle: self explanatory yellow liquid. Is it raw egg, or the ratio of egg to milk (or whatever secret liquid they add) that refuses to congeal under heat of the stove or the sterno?
b) glistening parts: you can just hear them when you see this picture. Work the spoon avoiding the glistening areas, around to the dry parts in the upper mountainous regions of the egg pile.

These photos were taken on my recent trip to Atlanta (see June's fondue posting), and I had a chance to eat several days worth of buffet eggs in my quest to conquer my fears. I had to take a photo of the spoon, of course, as it sits with the egg slime resting in it, as if to say "the end".

Lastly, I have to share the most fascinating scrambled egg delivery method and shape I've ever seen. At the Hartsfeld-Jackson airport Terminal C restaurant, I ordered the old "two egg" special. Most people know what two eggs look like - fairly traditional, little cloud-like pile of eggs stacked neatly on each other, next to things like hash browns or home fries and some breakfast meat on a plate.

When this little treat arrived, I shrieked in joy as I couldn't tell if it was eggs, very yellow mashed potatoes, or hot yellow ice cream. How on earth did they get it to hold a scoop shape, and served in a little bowl? Ingenious!

P.S. When it Atlanta, choose biscuits every chance you get.