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When you were in grade school, do your remember those two girls who were know-it-all brats? Those two girls who would do things like invent words to insult you with? You'd be standing behind them in line for recess, and they'd turn to you and say, "You're glooble". And you'd be like, "What does glooble mean?" And they'd say, "We're not telling you", and then they'd giggle to each other. You know those two girls?
Well, in my grade school one of those girls had a mother who was always signing up to assist the class in some way, and you could see where her daughter got her annoying personality. This woman had matured past the point of inventing insults, but had the same know-it-all personality. She was also at every field trip, every class party, every play not matter how small, and oftentimes she was in class doing something for no apparent reason at all, thinking that her presence and wisdom was making the classroom a better place.
About every month she baked cupcakes and sent them to the class. They were probably the worst thing I've ever eaten, and not one time did she vary the recipe even slightly. The best way I can describe the cupcakes is a hellspawn offspring of fruitcake and cornbread. The cake was dry and crumby, and it was baked with disgusting, soggy fruit (which tasted like a cross between circus peanuts and prunes). I'm pretty sure it was made with four-year-old whole wheat flour, because it was rancid, and it might have had ground flaxseed mixed in or something. And then, to top it off, she would mix some disgusting candy into the icing, based on the current month's theme (like on February when it was those Valentine heart things, ick).
I wasn't allowed to refuse to eat the cupcakes, because that would be "disrespectful". Some people in the class would lick the icing off and discreetly hide the cake part to throw away later, but the teachers always kept their eyes on me and forced me to eat every single one of those things.
Well, needless to say, ever since I've hated cupcakes. And, since this was maybe around the 20th worst experience I had in grade school, I kind of forgot the reason.
Well, it's not like my hatred of cupcakes was a crippling problem in my life, since adults, and teenagers for that matter, rarely eat cupcakes. So it happened that nearly 25 years after my horrid experience with cupcakes, I was sitting in Swinger's Diner in Santa Monica, which had delicious-looking cupcakes on display right in front of me. I knew I never ate cupcakes and I couldn't recall why at the time, but I figured it probably wasn't a good reason, so I ordered one. Damn that thing was good; it was much, much better than a regular cake. I think the high surface-to-volume ratio has a subtle effect on the cake dough as it's baking; the heat penetrates it better meaning that you can achieve the optimal doneness over a larger percent of the cake.
I think I also have to add cupcakes to the list of foods endemic to the culture of Los Angeles. There are bakeries in LA devoted just to cupcakes and I've never seen that anywere else. The list of foods is:
(Some people say to add sushi to this list but sushi seems to be a bigger source of civic pride down the road in San Diego.)
Anyway, in the last couple weeks I've eaten a few cupcakes and they were all very good, so I am now a true fan of cupcakes. I am also happy to finally be getting over some of the hang-ups I developed in grade school. I better be careful or I might end up liking tomatoes....
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