Romance Drama Happy

Ours was always about the chocolate, the darker the better. Caramel too, for the sweet touch on top of the bitter. We took pride in the shapes. We loved to dress them up. Theirs was about the milk, the fruit, and honey. They liked to mix things up and put them out. Ours was about passion, theirs about fondness. We had a richness they could never beat with their bright pops of anything. They said they were about love, light and bright. They claimed to uplift, we preferred to seduce. We would like to keep it that way. We have kept it that way for many many years. Why would that change now, why would we do it any differently?

I could not imagine this union, it was unholy to the core. Our bakery stood on the south side, undaunted by the goings on in downtown and the economy. People always needed a sweet reprise. With that pride and passion, we prepared for the festival. It was an annual event showcasing the best of the town, the creme de la creme The loudspeakers boomed that Saturday afternoon in Autumn. The dancing, crowds and smell of treats filled the town. I could not imagine on that afternoon, that somehow my life was going to change. That the seeds would be sown, for my greatest creation of all time. Our bakery made it a point to put our best foot forward. Always had, always would.

They showed up what seems like yesterday, with their banners and schemes. When their owner walked in I did not recognize her. She seemed rather calm and reserved for someone with pink window frames. She asked me about our ganache, our time honored tradition, it took hours to set. I laid our proud claim, the best one in the state, maybe the country. She asked if I had tried infusing cardamom. Such sacrilege, I could not imagine. I just smiled and said that was not our approach. The cheek to recommend I try it, I was borderline offended. She continued to chat, polite small talk turned into passionate conversation. We spoke of spices and sweets, fruits and flowers. This wasn’t my way, I was inculcated in the scriptures, how to make the perfect dough rise, how to whip at the precise speed for a precise amount of time. She was all “A little this, and a splash of that.” I could not stomach it, conversation turned into playful banter and then to heated debate. She gave me a taste of her Grandma’s birthday cake crumble. “What a disgrace?” I thought. Out of courtesy, I accepted. The taste was not offensive, but it wasn’t anything I would write home about. At least not then.

Yet something inside me was stirred. Why would a random stranger trigger such a thought? I could not quite place it. We were closed on Sundays, always had been. So I took the day to ponder. Who puts cardamom in a ganache. What did she think this was, some type of oriental custard? As the day went on, my mood changed from irked to curious, I started to go down an online wormhole. What I saw piqued my curiosity, as I began to wonder. I thought about what could happen with me spending an afternoon differently. Perhaps trying something so offbeat. A stroll to the farmer’s market, by the pink windowed monstrosity that made me cringe. “Spicy sweet goodness!” they teased. “What an abomination!” I thought. Amongst my Sunday shopping, I do not recall when or how, I picked up a small jar of these green pods with black seeds. As I lay out the ingredients on my counter it stared acutely at me, this jar.

I had nothing better to do. I was never one for watching tv, I had read my share of books waiting for customers during the week, and just music was not enough. I needed to bake, I needed to explore, I concluded. My internet search glared on the LED as I started to whip up some cream and chocolate and bowls and beaters. It must have been the cheerful old tunes or the boredom, perhaps there was something in the air that Sunday afternoon. Somehow, I cannot explain this, the green pods were cracked open, infused and whipped into my creme. I would never dare not tell my ancestors about this transgression. They were all dead though. And now, this floral sweetness was oddly inviting. The aroma was pungent and distracting, but also inviting. I waited for it to set. And hours of peculiarly cheerful music boomed from my speakers, once reserved only for the finest instrumentals, orchestras and symphonies.

At last it did set, along with the sun. I dipped a small spoon and took it to my lips. One kiss and my mind was flooded. I was hooked. I whipped another batch. The town was quiet now but I could not sleep. Past midnight my stomach churned for something. I tried the second batch. There was no hiding it. This worked. I decided to test out for some data. I stocked up the free samples section just before dawn. It was unlabelled. The section was empty, right before lunch. With many asking to buy large portions. I regretted informing them, it was not quite ready for a mainstream launch. It did in the coming weeks though, make it to my shelves. It was an instant hit. I walked to the farmer’s market every Sunday. One Sunday I noticed that it looked closed, that pink windowed bakery. It remained so for some Sundays to come. “Serves them right, for the offensive sweets they peddled.” I thought. Months passed, I kept walking past the pink windows, which now seemed less offensive. Perhaps I was getting older and more tolerant, or just accustomed to their presence. 

The one fine Saturday, I saw her enter. She said she had heard so much about the Cardo Ganache, she wanted to try some herself. With a smile that covered my embarrassment, I gave her a large serving, on the house. “I couldn’t do it better myself! Only my grandma could make it like that. I'll take a large one please.” It occurred to me what she had said about that strange crumble. “How is she, your Grandma?” I asked politely. She looked up at me, quietly, as if she could not find the right words. A small tear rolled down her pretty cheeks. “She is no longer with us. We had to close our shop because of it. I could not imagine baking again without her.” She replied softly. “Oh! I am sorry.” I replied in an awkward effort to comfort her on her loss. “It's ok. See then I thought of you.” She admitted. I was quite pleasantly surprised. “Yes, your bakery has stood the test of time. You value your traditions. I am sure the first person to bake here was something of an upstart.” This was true. My predecessors had once been revolutionaries in the world of baking.

“Your bakery and your own pride and passion, gave me inspiration. I wanted to preserve my grandma’s recipes, I wanted to build on them too. I wanted to honor her. So I started to bake again. I opened the shop then.” She explained. 

Then it dawned on me, who she really was. She was the lady behind the pink window. The cardamom and birthday cake would have been right up her alley. Of course. How could I not have guessed. That is why they were closed. Then the guilt hit me. I had never wished them well. They had only been inspired by me. She had come over to make a genuine suggestion, extended a hand of friendship. I had only shot her down. She had taken it in a stride. I admired her now, ashamed of my own self. “How are you doing now?” I asked hoping she was alright. She mentioned that business and motivation were still low. She also needed help running it, as she felt all alone. “Then I heard of your new ganache, and I felt I had to try it. I have always admired you. I felt this treat would motivate me again, like it had in the past.” she said, regaining her composure. I was flattered, without knowing what to respond. I was used to praise, but not in this way.

Something inside of me stirred once again, like it had many months ago. “I have an idea!” I exclaimed with a smile. “I owe you this ganache, owe you and your grandma, God bless her soul.” She looked a little puzzled. “What if we work together? Come up with a new line of baked treats, using your ideas and my experience. We can sell them together, in both places. We will honor your grandmother, and our heritage.” Tears filled her eyes, but she was smiling. I could not expect what happened next. I was taken aback when she jumped out and hugged me crying, “Why thank you so much. I would love that!” 

Something inside me changed that day. Or perhaps the change had begun some time before that, with the first taste of birthday cake crumble, or the first whiff of cardamom. Ever since though, we remained united. We went on to create the best thing we have always been proud of. This is why dear daughter, we must always make Birthday Cake Crumble topped Cardo Ganache, on every single occasion. That treat brought us truly together, and our greatest creation, is you sweetheart.

December 12, 2020 04:58

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