If there ever was a year when eating cake for breakfast every single day was acceptable, 2020 would have been it. While I’ve had years with some especially awful parts in it, during 2020 the whole damned world seemed to have lost its mind. So if you’ve already been eating cake for breakfast everyday please carry on. You need to hang on to whatever joy you can bring yourself during this stressful time – and I am not judging you. While my love of cake is well known in my circles, the only day of the year I actually allow myself to have breakfast cake is on Christmas morning.
Now, if I was really true to my Trinidadian roots, I’d be enjoying black cake – basically fruit cake with rum and browning in it. Every Caribbean island has its own version of the cake. Most West Indian homes, like mine, have had a big jar of dried fruit soaking in alcohol on regular rotation since the 70s. So there is always fruit on the ready in case emergency Black Cake is needed. But I don’t actually like the taste of the cake (much to the horror of many family members) so I go with store-bought. The cake I like to eat on Christmas Day is a very un-fancy but delicious vanilla cake from the grocery store. Usually, I order from Sobeys, but any grocery store vanilla sheet cake will do. I’m pretty sure I would have started this celebration with a McCain’s Deep and Delicious Chocolate frozen cake, but since, as in most West Indian homes, the freezer is way too full around Christmastime for my
“foolishness”, I had to go with something that would last in the cold room or the fridge.
So somewhere in my early 20s, in the pre cell phone and Instagram eras, I decided that I wanted cake for breakfast on Christmas morning. Normally, the breakfast menu is leftover ham and hops from the day before. (Hops is basically a kind of Trinidadian Kaiser.) I couldn’t even really stay true to that as I would just have the bread with butter and cheese (again to much of my family’s horror). But then I decided I wanted something sweet to eat, you know, before I had my hops and cheese, so I added the cake. What
better way to celebrate the birth of our Saviour than with fresh cake? At least, that’s what I thought.
And I started small. In the early days, I went with a 1/8th sized vanilla slab cake with “Merry Christmas” on it. Back in those days, they offered custard in the middle which I totally went for. A few years after that, I decided that the ¼ sized cake would be better because it allowed enough for breakfast, dessert that evening, and snacks for the next few days. By then they had stopped offering the custard in the middle, and I changed the message to “Happy Birthday”.
And then a little over 10 years ago, likely as my conversations with God were becoming much more serious and frequent, I bit the bullet and had “Happy Birthday Jesus” on the cake. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful – quite the opposite, in fact. It just felt like the right thing to do. And now, I have fun putting my order in at the beginning of December and trying to decide how it should be decorated. I haven’t veered much from the slab cake. There have been some variations through the years, but the
best cakes are always the ones I have at home while eating with my family. To be fair, they’re usually looking on in disbelief, but I still manage to have my bread and cheese so I stick with some of what they’re used to. I don’t know how much longer I’ll keep it up, but I’m not ready to stop with this just yet — this silly, calorie-laden tradition makes me happy.
I’d like to say I fall into the “sandwich generation” – and while I have no children of my own to care for – I find myself falling somewhere in between caring for my mother and caring for my sanity. When I am not working, I have the honour of helping look after my amazing mother, who has suffered 2 strokes in the past 11 years. Being a caregiver is not for the faint of heart, and if I am being honest, it can be a crappy club to be a member of. I have fallen down more times than I care to count through this journey, but while channeling my incredible stubbornness, strength (both of which I come by honestly,) and several F-words (Faith, Family, Friends and Food), I keep getting back up. IG: @Coolman_Eh