Either the man or the child dropped the cake. Both admitted culpability and braved my wrath. I screamed and called them names. The 25% Italian genes of mine expressed themselves very vocally indeed.

For you see, it wasn’t an ordinary cake.  It was a Christmas cake that I had baked with my friend Jane, who had painstaking shopped for the dried fruits for me and who had patiently grated the lemons and oranges that went into the cake mix.  The dried fruits have been soaked in Cointreau, and the cake was meant for a family whom we care deeply for.

Suddenly, there were these pieces in the container (instead of a whole beautiful cake) and cake crumbs on the kitchen floor.


Both the man and the child looked at me, perplexed.  “Sorry,” they said.  Then under their breaths, “It’s only a cake.”

Only a cake???

When my temper cooled, I realised, with fright, that I was becoming one of those awful women who lose their rag over dirty floors and imperfect dinners and creases in the ironing. All those unimportant things in life, things that get in the way of loving and life.

I thought about the muddy wellies in my house back in England and how evocative they are to me of a happy family life.  I thought about football marks on the wall where the children and their father kicked the ball in the hall whenever I was out of the house.  I thought about the messed up bed where the kids used to jump on and play Daddy Mountain. Our family life is so imperfect, so messy, but oh so very happy.

It harked back to my childhood, to my friend who lived in a perfect house whose mother was cold and unwelcoming of children and dogs in her house because of the mess that children and dogs bring in their joyful wake. My friend was afraid to live and left home, without looking back, as soon as she could. I wrote about it here.

Yes, it is only a cake after all. I don’t want my sixteen-year-old remembering her mother as someone who had a meltdown just because a cake was dropped. I want her to remember always the joy and happiness of our household, a place where magic exists.

My lovely friend Toni de Coninck, who is a foodie, shared this youtube clip with me:

My other friend, Vivienne Webb, shared this recipe with me:


And from my broken Christmas cake, I made this:

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We had this after dinner and though it was not Christmas yet, this was indeed een feestmaaltjid.  I absolutely love the Dutch