Personally, I blame The Great British Bake Off. I may be wrong; one must remember that association does not necessarily imply causation. But in my world, at least, there has been a veritable surge of people hurling themselves onto the home-baking band wagon. The one does seem to have followed the other. I suppose it’s possible that they are parallel but separate streams emanating from the same distant sociocultural source of which I know nothing. Who can say?
It’s difficult to be sneery about this. I do see that it’s better to eat food you’ve made yourself rather than stuff down boxes of Mr Kipling’s exceedingly empty calories. I also see that it’s A Good Thing to spend time acquiring or honing a genuine skill.
So yes, difficult to be sneery but I’ll give it a go. The problem is the cupcakes. It’s always bloody cupcakes. Oh, I understand the attraction, believe me. They’re not so tricky to make as to be discouraging, they don’t require any fancy kit other than a bun tin and there’s all the fun to be had with the icing and the themes and the sprinkles. It’s like being four years old again.
But they seem to come only in batches of twelve. In an office of, say, five people, if two have spent the weekend baking (which is well within the bounds of possibility), then that’s twenty four cupcakes to get rid of come Monday. That’s nearly five each. Far too many even if you like the damn things. Which I don’t.
They’re extremely difficult to refuse. The negotiation between cupcaker and cupcakee is as layered, dark and treacherous as a triple-decker Black Forest gâteau.
The top layer is obvious enough:
“I’ve made these cupcakes for you. To thank me, you must eat them.”
This may be easily understood but it’s perfidious in all directions. The middle layer is more truthful but rarely articulated:
“I made these cupcakes because I wanted to. Now please validate my actions by eating them. Otherwise, I have wasted my time, effort and money.”
The dense and claggy bottom layer is taboo and never, ever said out loud:
“I don’t actually give a monkey’s nipple whether you want them or not.”
The poor cupcakee (who would probably much rather spend the calories on lovely, lovely gin) doesn’t really stand a chance. They may very well ending up having one for elevenses, one at lunch time and still another with their afternoon cup of tea. Without quite knowing how it happened, they will go home that afternoon, clutching a couple more of the crumby creations, precariously wrapped in a swathe of blue kitchen roll.
I’ve only just thought of all this. Next time, I may try simply stating:
“No thanks, I don’t want one.”
I’m a little worried that the very fabric of society will unravel at this point but at least I’ll get my gin.