A piece of sponge cake, on a small plate with two forks in the upstairs window seat of the bustling café. There are groups of animated students chatting across coffees and sandwiches, and semi-professional writer-types sat alone at small tables as they tap away at slim laptops. I don’t remember the flavour, possibly it was a plain Victoria sponge, but now I think hard I seem to recall dry flakes of coconut. It’s a large piece of cake, and I’m glad I’m sharing it rather than struggling with it all myself. I expect it to be soft and moist, but it’s stale and dry. We persevere, and neither of us comments on its quality (or lack thereof). The end result is a feeling of regret and disappointment, mingled with relief that the ordeal is over. I don’t like coconut. Next time, I’ll have the brownie.
Jamaican ginger cake, warmed in the oven for five minutes and served in a bowl with a generous serving of custard, eaten curled on the sofa under a blanket. The main light is off and the lava lamp is glowing softly, casting a warm hue across the room. I don’t like the sound my spoon makes as it scrapes against the bowl, but I enjoy the deep ginger flavour of the gooey cake paired with the silken sweetness of the custard. It’s two small pieces of cake, created by cutting two slices from the main cake and then halving each one – that way, we each get only half of the end piece. It’s a challenge to eat the cake and custard in equal proportions, taking a little of each in turn, so I am not left with a dry cake or realms of custard. All things being equal though, I would choose the latter.
A thick slab of millionaire’s shortbread in a grease-stained paper bag, melting in the warmth of my hands, eaten while sat on the hard metal chairs lining a hospital corridor. I comment on its size and say I can’t possibly eat it all one go, and perhaps I’ll save some for later, but in reality the generous portion is not beyond my appetite. I’m concerned that when I bite into it, the shortbread layer will crumble, but it holds together well enough. The chocolate layer breaks easily beneath my teeth, which sink into the deep gritty sweetness of the caramel. Having previously promised to refrain from stuffing the entire thing into my face in one go, I deliberately stop after consuming just two-thirds of the sweet treat. I carefully fold over the end of the paper bag and place it my pocket – but when I retrieve it later that evening, the caramel layer has coated the inside of the paper bag quite thoroughly, freed from the confines of the chocolate layer, which has shattered beyond repair. I make a cursory effort to eat the remnants, by dipping a finger into the mess and licking it clean. I throw the rest away.