Bit grey drab and drizzly today isn't it? Would you believe it when I say I LOVE IT?! Especially on a Sunday - it's the best feeling to layer up, huge steaming cups of coffee, Sunday Times, tucking into a big fat roast and then lying belly up into a food coma aaahhh. Oh also, it's a lot more bearable in the kitchen and is perfect "cake weather". You see, buttercream and heat aren't BFFs so on super hot days we have to work a lot more carefully in the kitchen to make sure everything is tip top hot to trot to the shop, and advice all customers to handle their cakes with extra care and store in a cool dark place till needed.
So when lovely Sadaf sent me a panicked message before her fab 30th pastel picnic birthday party worrying about the weather and her AMAZING pastel cake dessert table surviving the heat I assured her as above and she did just that. This is what left our shop at mid-day, during the hottest part of the day:
And this is how they were displayed hours later at her absolutely jaw-dropping fabulous party! Photos by the lovely Julie Michaelsen Photography):
Photos like this make me SO happy!
Ahhh her party looks PERFECT! Despite the heat ;)
But sadly one of our cakes wasn't looked after so well. We received a rather emotionally charged email from a customer about an alleged 'faulty' cake for a joint 6 year olds' birthday party where these paragraphs really got me:
Of course, it's super distressing to see one of our cakes look like that. Especially knowing that that was NOT how it left the shop as we store all our cakes in the coolest darkest depths of the shop before collection. In my response we explained that we dispatch and deliver many cakes in the local area and across all of London daily, along with other fragile products, and this is the first time we have ever seen damage such as this. Judging by the photo, the cake looks like it was knocked to one side or transported at an angle. It is a fragile product and needs to be transported and stored with care which we advice all customers of, especially so on a hot day as it is iced with delicate natural buttercream.
It really sucks that that's how it was displayed at a party, instead of how it left the shop. Like this!
But I'm not sure which part of the email got me the most - the photo of the damaged cake, the allegations that the cake was "faulty", or that the damaged cake caused such a level of distress with embarrassment and shame at a 6 year old's party?! I know it's all relative, but this email jogged my memories from when I was a 6 year old during the summer of 1990, also distressed, but for very different reasons - I was unbearably hot and with only a squirrel for a friend. If you care for a little war-time story-telling...read on. I promise you you'll love the ending.
I know I've been whinging a lot about the heat. Which, if you know me, may surprise you considering the fact that I grew up in Kuwait, land of some of the hottest summers known to man. 50 degrees and counting on some days. So when I whinge that it's too hot in London sometimes I get a funny face in response with, "Reshmi! You're from KUWAIT!". Errr yeah, where the ONLY time you feel the heat is going between your air conditioned home to your ice-box-like air conditioned car to the tundra-like air conditioned mall. And also during the summers in India, either on holiday, or in our case to escape the Gulf War.
Some of my earliest memories from when I was 6 years old, August 1990, was seeing my parents change overnight. I was too young to understand how they felt about the very surreal situation - one where we had to leave everything behind, no access to bank accounts, unable to contact close friends, finding a home in a completely different environment (a 'development' in a 'developing' area of Calcutta, India) and adjusting to a MUCH simpler lifestyle with immediate effect while trying to make my sister and I believe that everything was fine. After all these years I can't put my finger on it, but they changed. They seemed the same, but different. Like I said, I was too young to understand. All I knew was that one day we may or may not meet our old friends again and that we had to go to new schools joining in the middle of the school year where it was almost impossible to make new friends as the weird kid from Kuwait. And oh my gosh it was HOT. I was uncomfortably hot, and missed my friends a LOT. My dad saw that I was having a tough time making friends and thought having a pet might be a worthy distraction. As a puppy or a kitten was out of the budget (and our new "modest" digs couldn't possibly accommodate another mammal) we got a squirrel from the jungle on the outskirts of Calcutta. A squirrel from the jungle I loved so much and called Jegly.
(It's not totally weird to have a squirrel as a pet...as I found out 25 years later at Blogcademy this year where Shauna revealed she has a squirrel called Chubs! Look at him! Awwww)
We put him in a large-ish cage in our balcony and everyday after school I'd run straight to him. He used to swing about in his cage making these whistling noises, which I thought were squirrel songs, which my aunt then told my mom were actually the squirrels' sounds of distress. Upon hearing this of course I was gutted and we made the difficult decision to set him free, back in the jungle. My only friend during that time had to be let go. On the day we were to take him back to his natural habitat I went to look at him one last time on our balcony with gapping-mouthed-amazement - he was hanging on to the cage up right and stood incredibly still, like he knew he was about to be freed. And as I leaned in further to look at him more closely the lil rascal peed straight into my gob. Yup, Jegly won. The lil $h!t.
Despite the squirrel-pee-in-mouth incident I cried the whole way to the jungle to free him and back. And for days after. Even now when I see a squirrel in London I think of Jegly, my dear friend during the Gulf War!
Luckily most customers do heed our advice and are able to enjoy our cakes whatever the weather. So if you're having a birthday party or wedding in London this summer you only need to be a bit more careful than usual with your fragile cake and you and your guests will be able to enjoy looking at it, cutting it, and digging right into it!
Lots of love from me and Jegly (wherever he may be),