For us, this week represents Covid-19’s first — and hopefully last — birthday.
It crashed into our home like grief — and 12 months later we can trace how we baked our way through all five stages of it.
We first baked this cake this time last year, when we thought it would all be over soon and that, while we had missed Mother’s Day, we would still be with our families for Passover and would need a flourless cake. That would be denial.
We baked it again to assuage anger — at the government, at bats and pangolins, at satanic landlords and curfew-breakers, at the person standing too close in the queue at the local market and the one barking at us for standing too close.
Then we baked it as a bargaining chip — if we bake for key workers and clap on Thursdays, if we bake to raise money for Beirut and Captain Tom, if we bake for our neighbours, customers, anyone who needs sweet comfort, then maybe we’ll be spared, maybe it will all be over soon . . .
And needless to say, we baked it in periods of sadness and depression.
They say the last stage is acceptance. We get that in glimmers. We are still waiting for it to settle but we’ll have a slice of cake while we wait, thank you very much.
And what a cake. It is pure, wholesome tenderness, a cake that gives much and wants nothing in return. It quivers but does not collapse. It needs very little to enhance its clean beauty, though it might be grateful for some cold cream and a scatter of fruit.
What’s it for exactly? Not for a virus, but for the new us. For better or worse, we are different now. While we’re still not sure what the new us will grow into, we have come through a year of plague (knock on wood) and we are excited by what the future might hold. So, we mark this milestone with a little celebration and a very good cake. Maybe this is acceptance.
For serving (optional)
Their new book “Chasing Smoke: Cooking over Fire Around the Levant” is published by Pavilion, May 13
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