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The Ninja Reader

High-brow or downright pretentious, good PNR or sparkly vampires, I don't care about the premise so long as it entertains me.

Currently reading

Bullying: The Social Destruction of Self
Laura Martocci

Wait, five stars? Am I mad?

Saved by Cake - Marian Keyes

I don't care. I like it that much.


The author of this book suffered from devastating depression. Baking helped her through the episodes and she compiled her favourite recipes in a cookbook, and the Irish royalties of it were donated to charity. This isn't what my review is about, but I figured I might as well get it out of the way now.


When I was a kid/teenager, I loved to bake. No joke, it was literally one of the things I loved to do most. I pestered my mother to teach me how to make pancakes and proceeded to make them every weekend henceforth, much to my family's displeasure (because our mixer was effing LOUD.) I browsed my grandmother's cookbooks and made lemonade cakes, and ended up bringing one back home. I got my mother to buy me a cake form as a back-to-school present and proceeded to bake, exhilarated by the fact that I could make ROUND CAKES WITH A HOLE IN THEM! (Yes, I genuinely thought that was exciting. Nobody had shown me any heart-shaped cake forms yet.) I made sweet and savoury biscuits that led to accusations from my family that I was making them fat.


Then I came to uni and I lost my mojo.


Was it the time commitment? That was part of it, but more to the point, there were few people I could force my baked creations on. Regardless of what they say about students being moochers, I found that, for the most part, the sanctity of one's corner of the fridge is kept with absolute strictness. Even more to the point, there was little incentive to buy mixing bowls and whisks when you're moving every year and shit gets left behind all the time.


Then came the time I went on a sugar-quitting programme that has given me such PTSD, I still feel guilty and shamefaced whenever I have cake. It's horrible! 


These days, whenever I try to bake something, it's an inevitable flop. It either tastes horrible, has the texture of drywall, or, most likely, both. So I did what any other girl does, turned my nose up at cakes and decided I don't care for them. (Spoiler alert: I do care for them.)


Reading Marian's book made me remember why, exactly, I used to love baking. Not because the final product would be delicious beyond belief, but because of the time and effort and skill it went into making something as simple as rock cakes. Because it makes me feel accomplished. And because, without fail, I would serve whatever I'd made to others and see their faces light up.


Food, to me, isn't just sustenance. It's about community and loving. You don't take the time to make something for somebody if you don't care for them. (That lot gets store-bought party mix and a bottle of wine and they're not missing out at all.) And the thing about "Saved by Cake", in the recipes and in all the notes in between, is that it just overflows with love, and it takes the reader along for the ride. "It's okay. It's just a cake." Yes, indeed. And a lovely cake it is.