I have a dedicated birthday cake. At first, I thought it was a bit strange. Then, I met my husband. Everyone in his mother’s family has their own dedicated birthday cake. It felt normal to him. The biggest problem with cakes is that they go out of fashion. My cake is Black Forest cake. It’s impossible to find in most places. In North America, one could technically pick up a frozen “let’s pretend” version of this cake. Just like you can pick up a “let’s pretend this is cheese” product in the cheese section…but I am much too French for either options. In my book, if I can assault you with a brick of mozzarella or a frozen birthday cake…it doesn’t count as a sound culinary experience.
Here are the main specs for Black Forest cake:
- cherries macerated in alcohol
- whipped cream. A LOT OF IT.
- chocolate cake
- dark chocolate shavings
Sadly, Black Forest cake was popular when I was a kid. It hasn’t been popular at all since at least the year 2000.
Every year, my husband custom orders this cake to make sure I have one.
He went to dozens of pastry shops in Paris and ended up bringing the saddest Black Forest cake I’ve ever seen. It was so sad that it wasn’t even a Black Forest cake. We learned that white chocolate shavings and raspberries instead of cherries make it a Vaucluse cake (not nearly as good in my mind). It was the first time in more than a decade that someone celebrated my birthday with cake.
As a student working two jobs, he saved his money and custom ordered a cake. He showed up at my doorstep with it. The first year, I laughed and argued about the cake’s classification. The second year, I cried. I felt beloved and full of cake. It was an emotional time. It was the first time I managed not to throw up my cake. Didn’t mean bulimia was over, but I managed to keep my cake down.
A Black Forest cake made it into my fridge. The man managed to HIDE a cake in my tiny fridge. HOW?! He became the cake Houdini and I held my breath wondering if I’d always be as loved by anyone ever again in my life. We talked about marriage that year and got lost in Eastern Asia for a little bit.
I had a choice to make and chose to stick by his side. Things were hard. But I celebrated my birthday with my new husband, my Black Forest cake and a billion cockroaches in our government housing apartment. I had faith we were going to make it. But I’m not much of an optimist so I didn’t say anything. We just made sure to clean everything up. No cake for the cockroaches. Also…HOW DO YOU HIDE A HUGE CAKE IN A FRIDGE?
Finally caught him entering with the cake! I’d never seen him so crestfallen. Never tried to catch him again. There are things one should just enjoy in life: the tooth fairy, the cake Houdini and maybe Santa. We prepared our Canada adventure. By then, he’d spend years working so that I could go to school and have the right internships to give me a chance to make it.
We had just found an apartment to live in. It was the dead of winter. -40 degrees outside. If you are wondering what that is in Celsius or Fahrenheit…don’t. That the exact point where the two scales meet. It was a dreary night. We had no furniture, no fridge and I didn’t dare allow myself to be disappointed by my lack of cake. Big girls don’t cry over cake. He hid the cake in the office room we couldn’t afford to heat. I cried by fat tears that warmed up my entire face.
He picked up a cake from a famous cake shop in Québec. My new game was to guess where he was getting the cake. Took me years to find out…and I did once the shop had closed its doors. He picked the cake up from his awful dead end job. It was close to work. Putting my career ahead of his meant that while I was soaring, he was doomed to wake up every morning to face a new nightmare in the office. That year, he spelled out “I love you” in Skittles on our big plushy bed.
I got my cake. We were talking about moving back to Europe. It was the first year since my 10th birthday that nothing came back up. No refunds. Goodbye bulimia. I ate that cake like a savage. He smiled and took pictures. I don’t think he knows he helped put an end to an eating disorder that haunted me for almost 2 decades.
Spent my birthday in Budapest. When things go wrong, we go to Budapest. Health issues made me realize I may not see another another birthday cake. I made a promise to myself to show him my childhood home, ensure his career would keep him safe and cross something off of our bucket list. My 30th year on this Earth was interesting:
- They had Black Forest cake at Voxxed Days Zurich during my birthday
- We went to Hawaii (childhood home)
- He attended a coding bootcamp
- We climbed the Great Wall of China (not all of it mind you but enough that we checked this off from our bucket list)
- Spent 2 months in Mexico racing to get a new passport to make it back in time…for his new job!
- I didn’t die!
Still reeling from our passport adventure in December, his new job in January and my first year as a freelancer…the cake tasted good. It tasted like home, stability, chocolate and cherries.
This year, I was off in Europe during my birthday. I came home and saw two little chocolate cakes. We had them for breakfast. They were decadent. They weren’t Black Forest cake. My heart sank like the Titanic. The next day, he showed up with Black Forest cake from a new pastry shop. This time he told me which one, it’s a rather fancy one. We can afford it. We ate it in our new apartment as proud homeowners.
This morning, I finished the last piece of cake. Left half in my plate for him. Counted the cakes. Counted the years. Cried by myself and killed half a box of tissues. He woke up, ignored the cake and did his best to console me in a panic. After a few hugs and explanations, he finished the cake and we remembered together…why we love being together.