Any celebration that revolves around loved ones and a cake ringed with fire is a serious contender in the “best day ever” awards. And what’s not to love about birthdays — either as the guest of honor, or simply a guest? There are presents and hugs, and it nary has the soul-crushing, brow-beaten, commercial-heavy trappings of other gift-centric holidays. And, chances are, the eating is glorious.
We asked around America’s Test Kitchen for some fun food-related birthday stories. Here are a sampling:
I’m not a cake person, and most of my friends know this. Usually I get a birthday pie, but one memorable year someone made me a birthday meatloaf with 22 candles!
For my birthday when I was about 12, my dad (who never knew what to buy for my sister and me, and always gave us cash in a card) unexpectedly brought home the biggest lobster I have ever seen. It probably weighed upwards of 20 pounds, 2½ feet long — no kidding. I still can’t imagine why I didn’t feel bad that we ate it. We probably should have donated it to the Aquarium. But it tasted great and we ate it all. (My mom and sister hated seafood. So it was kind of solidarity between dad and me that he got me the giant lobster.) I’ll never forget it.
In Mexico, after you sing and blow out the candles of the cake, everyone starts chanting Mordida (which means “bite”), trying to coax the birthday girl or boy to take a bite. More often than not, someone will come up behind them and push their face into the cake when they are taking a bite. While there are plenty of pictures and footage of my sisters, cousins, and I at a very early age crying with a face full of cake, we’ve turned it into more of a sport as we’ve gotten older. Often times you have to earn the trust of your victim acting as a protector before your inevitable betrayal. After much pleading and arguing the birthday person usually caves to the pressure of the crowd, and if you’re quick, you can come away with minimal cake on your face. Beware: If you outright refuse, frosting will find its way onto your face after the cake’s been sliced when you least expect it.
One year when I was young, my dad, brother and I decided to surprise my mom on we birthday by making her a layer cake from scratch. Should have known it’d be a disaster from the start, but we got up early that morning and got baking. Surprisingly, the cakes came out of the oven okay, but in an effort to get the final product ready before my mom woke up, we frosted and stacked the layers without letting them cool. The result: epic structural integrity fail. Mom came downstairs that morning to find a totally collapsed dessert and three dejected dudes in the kitchen… So, logically, we just ate the whole mess for breakfast. To this day, the legend of the “Earthquake Cake” lives on.
And now for the Silly Question of the Day…
What is your fondest food-related birthday story?
Leave your silly answer in the comments!
(Photo: Will Clayton)