I admit I am not just any cake person, I desist from indulging in any other flavor other than chocolate cake. But just not any chocolate cake, I preferred the rich, gooey chocolate creamy ones that explode in your mouth giving your tongue and insides an ultimate taste of rich cocoa. The strong smell of chocolate enchants you as you savor every bite of this piece of heaven. Such were my feelings towards this heavenly delicacy and I never thought that in a thousand births I would ever cheat on it.
Well but not for too long, I was in Mcleodganj one cold evening when I entered a cafe to comfort myself with a coffee and a snack. I had a friend with me, we agreed to try out something new just for the sake of it.
“How can I help you?” smiled the lady at the counter.
We looked at the counter beside her, it displayed the most delicious sweetmeats, ready to be devoured. I looked at the options, there was a lemon cake, a cheesecake, a carrot cake and my old love- a chocolate cake. Croissants and brownies looked pretty tempting too.
“I’ll have the lemon zest one, what about you?” enquired my friend.
“I’ll go for the carrot one….maybe.” I shrugged my shoulders. I don’t know why I ordered the carrot cake. Maybe because I had read good reviews about it, or maybe it was a larger portion for a slice or maybe was I bored of the chocolate cake?
I and my friend rested ourselves in the open area, overlooking the far away mountains. We chatted away incessantly, though the thoughts about the carrot cake lingered in my mind.
What if it is bland or tasteless?
What if it’s just another dry piece of confectionary that enters your mouth with the intent of choking you?
How could I do this with chocolate cake? Should I ask for a replacement?
Should I cancel my order?
My thoughts were interrupted by a lanky gentleman who got us a tray full of our orders. Hot coffees and cakes.
“So it’s here,” I said to myself.
My friend took a bite from her lemon cake and nodded with approval. It seemed good. The smell arising from the carrot cake was alluring, a sweet carrot fragrance mixed with whiffs of essence and flour. It was a pretty large slice of the cake with a thin sheet of cream on the top. The circular sides looked a little overbaked not burnt, like the ones I always preferred. The overbaked sides are always crusty and little crunchy to taste.
I slide the fork into the cake and whiffs of steam and aroma arose from it. I had slowly begun to forget the chocolate cake. I raised the fork and the aroma engulfed my senses, I finally took a bite of it.
The flavor was rich, luscious, though not too sweet. It was unlike the chocolate cake, scrumptious in its own flavor. The thin sheet of cream added the right amount of moisture to the piping hot cake, it trickled on the tongue and caressed the roof of the mouth, hugging it to let go of any resistance I had for other flavor cakes. It didn’t need to be gooey or runny with cream to become whole. It was perfect by itself. It was love at first bite.
I felt liberated, I took more bites of it. I didn’t want to share it at all.
Thus began my love affair with carrot cakes in this little town of Himachal. I wanted to taste all of them in the short span of time I had. I tried stalking it and tasting it everywhere I could find it on the menu. I tried different cafes for the same love. I was largely disappointed at almost all the places – some were too dry, some had a sugary syrup, some were burnt at the side, some were too sweet etc.etc. I just didn’t want to go back to the original one, I wanted to find a better one than it. Or maybe I was guilty of cheating on a chocolate cake and felt I didn’t deserve to savor the other perfect one?
I kept on eating disappointing carrot cakes for a while and then I thought of changing my loyalties once again. What if I could find an equal lover or a better one in a different flavor? I might never know if I never tried.
I entered the same cafe with a determination of finding similar love in another flavor. I narrowed down all the flavors in which the cheesecake looked plump and seductive in all its glory. I eyed the carrot cake with a side eye, of which only a slice remained. I don’t even remember seeing a chocolate cake then.
“One cheesecake please,” I ordered.
The handsome cheesecake sat smoothly on the plate, softer on the outside. It looked promising of a creamy texture and a sweet-sour flavor. It was hunger provoking. It was a time to get a new love.
I grabbed the plate and cut through the cake, caring a little about getting the entire piece on the fork. It didn’t budge, the crust was a little too hard. I had to struggle to get it on the fork. Resistance? I liked it, what is the value of love if you get it easily? I was already getting enticed.
I put it in my mouth hastily and a certain flavor exploded it was sweet cheesy, to begin with, but it left a sour aftertaste to it. The cream almost stuck to the insides of the mouth like peanut butter. I choked a little with the quantity I had in my mouth, It was tangy. It felt chunky and overpowering trying hard to make me forget my previous loves. I gulped it down unwillingly. It was good but not for me. This is not what I was looking for in a cake.
I felt dissatisfied and cheated. How could an alluring cake in its creamiest beauty do something like this? Are looks so deceptive? This was not a disappointment but a heartbreak.
I wanted a redemption. Something which could comfort me in this massacre, I knew I needed a carrot cake. I ran towards the counter as I had seen only a single slice remaining earlier. It was still sitting in the display waiting for me like a wronged lover. Devouring it was the only way to make things right.
I had it to my heart’s delight that evening. It provided me with the same comfort and love it gave me before. I forgot my little harrowing rendezvous with the cheesecake. We were one again.
I sabotaged all my attempts to find a better love after my redemption. I tasted other dishes but never made any comparison. They say that you should try out a little affair in exotic places you travel. Well, I had mine accidentally and it liberated me to try out other flavors. But don’t be in a hurry to find new loves at every turn you might just end up eating too many burnt and bland ones like I did. So I had an affair to remember – An affair with a carrot cake.
I left Mcleodganj with a promise to the carrot cake to return here again someday just to devour it again.
Eat it at – Green Hotel, Bhagsu Road, Mcleodganj
P.S : I still love my chocolate cake and I eat it with the same love. But my affair with the carrot cake taught me that you cannot compare the best things in life just to find out which one is better. Each of those things is better than the other at some point in life. Learn to enjoy rather than compare. You may never know your next affair is just around the corner of another cafe or a bakery.