No More Mr. Nice Pie

No More Mr. Nice Pie
Drawing by Retsu Takahashi

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Just A Gluten for Punishment

I am trying to be a more tolerant person in the New Year 5775. So far, it is not going swimmingly. Friday was a classic example and it was not for lack of trying.

There are those who appreciate the vintage charm of the rotary phone in the bakery. From where I answer it, it is severely lacking in one area- there is no way to place an individual on hold and connect them with a pleasant customer service representative. Clearly, I am not that girl. Friday was as chaotic as Times Square on matinee day. As my workday was drawing to a close, the phone would not cease and desist, so I grabbed it. 

I counseled a woman making a torturous decision regarding a birthday cake for a two year old. Was I patient?  I was. Helpful? That too. Pleasant? Let’s not get carried away. And then came the zinger, at the very end. “Wait!” she pleaded, sensing I was about to wrap things up. “Can you also add a small train, and some train tracks, somewhere in the middle of the cake?” If it’s trains you seek, Madam, we are mere blocks away from the New Jersey transit station. In fact, you can actually watch the trains roll along the tracks from the bakery window. But I didn’t say that. “Nooo- we can’t just add a train,” I sighed, rolling my eyes.  “Okay, okay, one more thing.” (She must have heard my eyes rolling.) Isn’t there always one more thing? “I also need to order cupcakes.” In keeping with my resolve to be more agreeable, fine, I’ll jot that down, too. Until she uttered those two little words in conjunction with two other words. Gluten Free. Mini cupcakes. Aaaargh! I just couldn’t do it. I have resolved myself to our Gluten Free culture, but I am still seeking therapy when it comes to mini cupcakes. If you want to eat a cupcake, eat a cupcake. Mini cupcakes don’t count. Despite what all the new moms think, they are not large enough to satisfy a two year old. Nor are they a low calorie food for adults because you need to consume copious amounts for any sort of sugar high. So what’s the point?! Are they cute? Perhaps. But many things in life are cute that don’t require their own painstaking packaging in enormous cardboard boxes fitted with miniscule cardboard inserts. Mini cupcakes also require the hands of a surgeon to orchestrate their execution. And what you don’t want is for them to bump their tiny buttercream heads as you close the lid of the box. “Can they be white cake? Can they have sprinkles? Can half of them have vanilla frosting and half have yellow frosting to match the inscription on the cake? Hello? Hello?” They could probably be all of those things, but not on my watch. I did what was best for all birthday parties involved, I handed the phone off to the closest barista in sight.

I have more critical things to tend to. I am on the hunt for the elusive quince. Whole Foods promises to have them. When I arrive it is clear that Whole Foods is not in the quince loop. What they do have in vast quantities are pyramids of beautiful plums. And a sale on raspberries. I will have to adjust my recipe planner. That I can easily do.

As I wait on line to relinquish the contents of my wallet to the check-out fellow, I stop dead in my flour dusted tracks. I am convinced that my work life runs parallel to my real life in not-so-subtle ways. It can be positively frightening. The check-out line gridlock forces me to stand directly in front of the magazine rack. There is no escaping it, the selection is stem to stern all of one genre.

When I return home, there is a package waiting for me. Fresh out of the oven, a brand new t-shirt emblazoned with the letters WIJWGF. The brainchild of artisan bread baker and wood-fired oven wizard Richard Miscovich, the sentiment is awfully appropriate in my workplace. “What If Jesus Were Gluten Free?”

It might just be what to wear to work on Gluten Free Thursday. I know. I had high hopes for the High Holidays; clean slate, fresh start, sensitive to people’s kneads. But realistically I have to look at it this way. If I’m riding the struggle bus of a kinder, more tolerant me, I may have to try this again on December 31st.  Three months is a fair amount of time to practice.

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