Thursday, April 11, 2019

Marzipan or martini?

My introduction to marzipan was more than 50 years ago in Stockholm, Sweden. It was there in the high-ceilinged bright, white kitchen of my parents' Djursholm dwelling that I first tried the celebrated princess cake, notorious for its mouthwatering green concoction.  Subsequently I experimented with its transmogrification as imitation fruit, vegetables and small figures of animals. Just about any rendition of marzipan is zestful competition for the alternate indulgence of a stiff frozen martini (though certainly many would challenge the relative avidity). I'd wager as an amateur nutritionist that the devilish ingredients of the two potions are mischievously similar.

Our late afternoon orbit today took us within the gravitational field of a gluten free bakery on Greenbank Road in Ottawa. The original motive was well-fitting shoes. That ambition was defeated by lack of product.  While waiting for the shoe episode to transpire I unintentionally bought a pair of cotton pants from a nearby Italian tailor - pants that haven't the current silliness of so-called "low rise" (which to me means only that they never stay up).  Afterwards we recollected by degrees that we were within the sphere of a very fine bakery.

To modify a quip of my late father, appetites - like money - don't disappear, they just change appearances. Having quit the vulgarities of alcohol and tobacco years ago we are nonetheless constantly threatened by their erstwhile acquaintance. Though I am assured that upon my 100th birthday I am at liberty to reignite the pleasures of distilled liquor, until then the only tolerable alternative is the satisfaction of confection. It was the work of a moment for us to relinquish and surmount any barriers that previously constrained our voracity. We went at it with a vengeance! The baker/owner was visibly delighted by our repeated transgressions. It took both of us to carry out our load of intemperance.

Meanwhile it's preparing for back-to-back appointments with the endodontist, cosmetic surgeon, ophthalmologist, general physician and internist, the default diversity of old fogeys. It would be a welcome relief to visit a chiropractor (something I hope to do tomorrow for my deteriorating spine). Is it any wonder we pine for potentially abusive deliverance?

princess cake (Swedishprinsesstårta) is a traditional Swedish layer cake or torte consisting of alternating layers of airy sponge cake, jam (typically raspberry jam), pastry cream, and a thick-domed layer of whipped cream. This is topped by marzipan, giving the cake a smooth rounded top. The marzipan overlay is usually green, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and often decorated with a pink marzipan rose.
The original recipe first appeared in the 1948 Prinsessornas kokbok cookbook, which was published by Jenny Åkerström, a teacher of the three daughters of Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland. The cake was originally called grön tårta (green cake), but was given the name prinsesstårta or "princess cake" because the princesses were said to have been especially fond of the cake. The princesses were Princess Margaretha (1899–1977; later Princess of Denmark), Princess Märtha (1901–1954; later Crown Princess of Norway), and Princess Astrid (1905–1935; later Queen of the Belgians).[4] The cake is widely featured in Tom McNeal's book Far Far Away.

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