Monday, 10 September 2007

Women and Cake

In a week's time I will be on holiday so today I continue on my diet, trying to lose a couple of pounds of excess blubber which are currently hugging my middle, spoiling the line of my new swimsuit (gave up on bikinis a long, long time ago), so this morning with true resolve I strode into the office carrying a bag with all the food I intended to eat today. It contained:

One banana.

One low fat yoghourt.

One can of low calorie, low salt, low taste soup.

One piece of crispbread with a thin film of low calorie spread.

Two satsumas.

A large bottle of water.

And that was it. That was definitely all I was going to eat today until dinner this evening.

And then I remembered it was someone's birthday today. In our office that means only one thing:


Now, I have been known to be able to resist shop bought factory produced cake. Mr. Kipling does not tickle my (French) fancy. Swiss roll can keep on rolling for all I care. I can take them or leave them, more or less.

But not these cakes. They were home-made. And there were tons of them.

Flap-jacks, chocolate layer cake, strawberry Pavlova, lemon drizzle, carrot cake and Bakewell tart, to mention just a few. The birthday girl must have been baking all weekend, bless her. Within minutes of unveiling the wonderful spread, every woman in the place was clustering round that table, plate in hand, like it was the first day at Harrod's china sale.

So now my food list for today includes:

One piece of flapjack, plus the crumbs from the flapjack plate (these don't count, I was just tidying up).

Two very, very thin slices of lemon drizzle cake, then another bloody great huge one.

Only the strawberries from the Pavlova because I am on my diet. The meringue and cream just happened to be stuck to some of them.

A wafer thin piece of chocolate cake. Honestly, it was just a shaving.

Half a piece of carrot cake, no topping. Then the other half plus the topping from the first piece. But they were only very small, so that's OK.

A tiny piece of Bakewell tart, leaving the pastry edge because pastry is very fattening.

As you can see, I am a woman of true resolve and determination. It would have been so easy to have fallen off the wagon in the face of such temptation, but tonight for dinner we are having a salad because I am, as I said, on my diet. And I intend to stick to it.

Can't wait to see how much I've lost.


Amy said...

Your restraint is commendable. How do you do it?

But maybe you could provide some cross-cultural enlightenment:

What are flapjacks? Around here, flapjacks are pancakes, and pancakes are served hot with maple syrup, for breakfast--or dinner when you're lazy. They're definitely not anything anyone would take to a party. Without the syrup, they're not even sweet.

What is a Bakewell tart? A culinary floozy?

And how about lemon drizzle? Is that what it was called? I can't remember now. I'm picturing lemon drizzle, and it looks grand.

And I know I could look this stuff up on Google, but your answers would be so much more fun.

I only had cake once when I was in England. We stayed with a couple in Norfolk and had squash(es), tea, and cake in the garden. The cake was very dry and scarcely frosted. It was very different from what I was used to. I didn't ask for a second piece. I'd never had a squash before. Squash is a garden vegetable, not a drink, in these parts. It was a fine beverage. And the tea was just black tea, which was a bit of a let-down given England's tea reputation. But it all felt very posh, none-the-less. Just to say "garden" inspired flutters.

dgibbs said...

Wow, I think I want to be on your diet! Or maybe just visit your office for birthdays. When I was in an office it was just the same. Only thing that was worse was the Christmas cookie trade off.

belle said...

You've obviously forgotten the first rule of calorie counting, SM ... if it doesn't have the calories written on the side of the packet then there are none. Therefore there are no calories in any homemade food, so your diet is fine! In fact, lemon drizzle cake is bound to be at least one of your portions of fruit and veg ;o)

The Grocer said...

Oh go for a run or a swim as penance, although I am betting that you are really a svelte chick :)

Swearing Mother said...

OK Amy, here's the skinny (ha!):

Flapjacks are a mix of oats, brown sugar, butter and golden syrup (thicker than maple and nectar of the gods), pressed into a shallow baking tin and baked in the oven, cut up into squares when cold. Sweet, chewy and yummy. Best avoided by those wearing dentures.

Bakewell tart: There's a village in ?Derbyshire called Bakewell, and they are famous for their tarts. Ahem. Although I love your wild guess, and oop North I bet there are many many women who answer to that name, it's actually a short-crust pastry case,lined with red jam (jelly?)usually raspberry, filled with sponge cake and almond mix, baked and then decorated with thin icing and almonds. Or something like that. This one was apparently a recipe from the wife of Gordon Ramsay (celebrity chef known for his swearing - probably a relative of mine) so it's f*cking gorgeous. Served slightly warmish with a dollop of ice-cream it's better than sex, apparently.

Lemon Drizzle cake is basically a lemon sponge cake with a watery icing mixed poured over it whilst still warm so that it soaks through the cake and leaves a lemony, sugary crust on the top. And the cake is lovely and moist, and lemony. And sugary. My personal favourite, yum.

The place where you had tea in Norfolk doesn't sound typical, if I may say so, of a standard UK afternoon tea in full regalia. Even though we Brits don't usually have tea as an afternoon meal (cake and sandwiches etc) any more, we still pine for it, so when it actually happens it's generally a bit gorgeous. Sounds like you had Earl Grey tea, which is a bit different from the normal everyday (builders') tea and is served without milk. Very, very posh, a bit perfumed? And dry cake? Personally, I prefer a cup of Yorkshire tea with a dash of milk, no sugar (for diet reasons, obviously) and as many pieces of home-made cake you can get on my plate. If ever you're coming to the UK again, let us know, I am sure we can direct you to places that do a proper, gorgeous afternoon tea.

Anyone reading this who has good cake recipes, please feel free to post them here. I won't bake any, of course, but I know a woman who will.

Swearing Mother said...

dgibbs, don't get me started on Christmas office food, that's a whole new can of worms (not literally, but you know what I mean), I could be reminiscing about Marks and Spencers whole back catalogue, no problem!

Why am I always on a diet but never stop eating? A mystery as old as time.


Norman said...

If you're going to the Med you'll get the best diet there is, The Mediterranean one. I'll be in Cyprus for a few weeks making art from this month end and can guarantee I'll lose about 5 kilos living on Greek salad and Moussaka Kyrianu. Oh, I will have one English indulgence. My bowl of porridge every morning.
My recommendation? Don't eat too much and don't eat too little either. Just enjoy.
That goes for everything. See you if your at my end of the Med.

Self employed mum said...

Great post, the diet can start tomorrow, Amy's comments made me giggle,
'What is a Bakewell tart? A culinary floozy?'
So funny!

laurie said...

ah, office parties. i work in an office of more than 300 people; it's almost always someone's birthday. just yesterday, for instance....

some days i can walk resolutely past, eyes averted, nose pinched to avoid the delectable odors.

but mostly not. usually, i partake.

we're on the same diet, i fear, and if that's the case it's too bad for you....

Amy said...

Thanks for the explanation. I'm plotting a month in England next summer. Let's have some cake.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Oh S/M yet again you have so hit the mark. I am distinctly ample round the middle and start each day with such good intentions. I eat plenty of fruit and veg and supplement this with stealing sweets from my children, eating goodies intended for their pack up after they have gone to bed and indulging in too many office cake runs. Will power, what's that!!

The Rotten Correspondent said...

I've been going back and forth on the whole diet issue lately myself. If I could do one like yours I'd be all for it.

Swearing Mother said...

Oh Norman, Cyprus sounds good, think we'll probably try it next year. Yes we're heading through France towards Italy, so I expect to be eating myself senseless on wonderful French and Italian food, non-stop. Will do some swimming though to counteract the calories.

SEM: That made me laugh too! Hopefully, all loose women in Bakewell will also see the funny side!

Belle: Thanks for reminding me about the five a day rule, of course you are right! That means the carrot cake was another one of my five, by our reckoning, and the strawberries..... etc. You see, eventually everything can be justified if you think about it long enough!

Hi Grocer: Have been doing laps around M and S buying new undies and T-shirts, must have covered at least two miles - does that count?

Laurie: I think we're kindred spirits on the food front, but what the heck? Food that someone else brings into the office just has to be eaten, it would be rude not to.

MMOF: And, have you noticed, stolen chips (even when cold) from your children's plate taste unbelievably good, especially if they've left a few baked beans too.

Amy: Seriously, let us be your guide when it comes to cake, tea and stuff like that. I have made it my life's work to research those subjects!

Thanks everyone for visiting.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi RC: And they say women can't stick to a diet - huh, that's just rubbish, isn't it?

Been even better today, only ate HALF a bag of Maltesers. Now that is true self-discipline for you, even though I say so myself.


Mopsa said...

Ah yes, the office diet. Nigh on impossible unless everyone is on one. Carrot sticks just don't do it for a birthday.

Tina said...

Now you see SM, it wasn't your fault. The birthday lady made you do it. You wouldn't have done it otherwise. Being force fed cake can hardly be pleasant, now can it? Do you know what you should do to cheer yourself up? Have a cup of builders tea & a nice piece of lemon drizzle cake. That will see you right in no time at all.

merry weather said...

Tee hee, just a shaving of chocolate cake eh?

That was unlucky Jane. Yet on the other hand - or thigh! - it sounds delicious! Yum - what a great workplace. I can only compare it to school cake sales here. There is one mum who knocks out fantastic flapjacks, she stands alone, everyone else buys plastic shop stuff...

I'm offering you the name me me post at my blog, if you french fancy it!

knifepainter said...

Been dodging salads for years, but for the last two weeks have been eating loads of that good for you stuff.

Herself has made various carnal promises that she will fulfill if I lose a yard of belly.

However, left alone to fill the car with fuel I was drawn to the choccy counter near the till.....Mars Planets.
Not really a Mars bar, 'cos they are the individual parts wrapped hygenically in chocolate, oh yes.

Have to wait a while more for the gymnastic shagging then !

Swearing Mother said...

Mopsa, how right you are! I love carrots but they stand absolutely no chance in the face of a pile of sugar coated calories.

Tina, I am so glad you realise how hard my life is, working with a load of people who insist on making us graze on cakes all day. It's a dreadful job, but somebody has to do it.

Merry, Hi, I do indeed fancy the whatsit me blog thingy, and I will definitely have a go at it. As soon as I've finished this last bit of flapjack.

Knifepainter: I am shocked to hear that Herself has resorted to such low-down mean bribery re weight loss. Does she not know that a man needs a packet of Mars Planets a day to help him work, rest and play?

But then, having seen pictures of her good self, I can see why a man would live on lettuce in order to gain her favours (ahem).

EmmaK said...

I think you showed a very admirable sense of self control. I would have been face down in the pavlova inhaling is my absolutely favourite dessert.

ginger witch said...

Loaded my work drawers (the filing kind not special knickers for work you understand)with copious nuts (healthy in small quantities) and dried fruit (ditto) after raiding (well I paid for them actually) Holland & Barratt last week. . . ate them all for breakfast the next time I was in. And I'd already had porridge

Casdok said...

I stick to the See food diet!

Jez Bell said...

Fabulous! I am on the same diet! Holiday in 3 weeks, today i was treated to lunch out - it would've been rude not to have three courses, had the strawberry tart for pud so the strawberry counted as one of my five a day - and no milk in my coffee after to make up for the previous calorie intake!
Amy - what do you do without cake???

laurie said...

are you so busy eating cake and zooming around in your new car that you've forgotten all of us??

Norman said...

Hello S-M. Where are you?
I'll be out of circulation in a week's time as I'll be in Cyprus.I'll still be blogging though when I can get to an internet cafe.

Swearing Mother said...

Bonjour my leetle chums! It is I, le Swearing Mama (or should that be La Mama Swearing, not sure?).

Meant to leave a message before we went off on holiday touring round Nice area, (nice!), but internet was down so couldn't, and then never managed to find le cafe d'internet to keep in touch.

EmmaK - know just what you mean re Pavolova - it's simply the best, inhaled or chewed - I don't care.

Ginger Witch: I understand the lure of nuts more than most women, especially if accompanied by a large gin and tonic.

Casdok - Hi! I am currently trying not to see food at all, can't get into warm clothes now I'm back in the UK. I did have a waist a couple of weeks ago, but where's it gone now!?

Hi Jez, I think you've forgotten that when you are treated to lunch,it would be positively ignorant not to have all three courses, one of which MUST contain huge amounts of unnecessary calories. Same as the five a day rule but applies to eating out etiquette, so you are completely correct in your calculations, as always.

Laurie, Hi! Went off on hols in a bit of a rush and internet was on the blink, hence my sudden disappearance! Cake and car obviously figured in the proceedings too! Missed you!

Hiya Norman, went to the South of France, ate and drank myself senseless, saw some great art, wonderful scenery and a fair amount of the inside of my own eyelids. Bliss. Took your advice re Mediterranean diet but am still fat as a lardon and twice as streaky (erratic fake-tan technique). Hope you have a good time in Cyprus. Read you soon!

Mike said...

Hi SM, I laughed myself sick at this post! Not so sick I couldn't eat the cakes a colleague brought in to celebrate her retirement, and of course it would have been rude not to try a piece of all 4 different ones! I partic loved the bit about crumbs not counting cos it's cleaning up. Today, though, I have a new trick- every time I'm tempted to eat sweets, i'm going to pretend i have a sick stomach, will keep you posted on consequential weight loss! mimi not mike

merry weather said...

Ah, so that's where you've been, sounds great! Sounds like a proper holiday Jane. Look forward to your next post, will you be telling us all about it?

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Mimi, glad to hear that while I've been away you have been keeping up the cake consumption effort, well done.

Hello Merry, yes we definitely had a good time, now freezing cold back in Blighty. Working up to my next post as we speak!

So glad you haven't forgotten me, I was worried about disappearing with no trace! Back with a vengeance now though.