It was just a crack in the sidewalk, but the result of stubbing the toe of my sturdy school shoe into it was a quarter-sized, flesh-less, bloody divot in my knee and the end of my doorbell-ringing for the day. The fall left a scar that is still visible on my right knee, but I did manage to earn the coveted “100 box” badge that year which I proudly stitched to my green, Girl Scout sash. I’ve been a sucker for a bake sale ever since. It doesn’t matter whether I’m the customer at a school bake sale, peddling boxes of thin mints door to door, or baking through the night with four other volunteers; the happy combination of sweets and a good cause always draws me in.
This past spring I took part in Bakesale For Japan which was organized shortly after the devastating earthquake suffered there. Samin Nosrat, a Berkeley-based professional cook and freelance writer, was the driving force behind the nationwide sale. (I wonder if she ever sold Girl Scout cookies as a child?) The sale took place on April 2nd from 10am to 2pm in cities across the country. Hundreds, if not thousands of people put on their aprons and rolled up their sleeves in the days leading up to the sale to help people halfway around the world whom they didn’t know and would never meet. None of them would ever even find out whether their creaming, sifting and rolling had helped to ease suffering or improve lives. And still they baked. They filled their kitchens, whether in bakeries, restaurants or homes, with the smells of vanilla, cinnamon, toasted nuts and chocolate. Children got to lick beaters and reaching hands were shooed away from cookies on cooling racks from coast to coast. Some bakers mixed and folded in solitude, their acts a quiet meditation of textures and tastes. Others made the task a family affair, gathering children up to the counter to learn about empathy and generosity as they scooped cookie dough onto a metal sheet, spoon by spoon. Then there were those who gathered friends together in a merry party of baking frenzy. I count myself among the first and last of these.
Once again I am baking for a cause. This time I Will Bake For Food. I am mixing, rolling, stirring, and pureeing to help people I don’t know, but whom I may unknowingly pass in the street. They are my neighbors. This time the need is closer to home, in my own city. Even though I am alone in my kitchen, once again I do not bake alone. I join more than 60 others with whom I have at least one thing in common; we all write about food.
In generations past one could read literary references to food in Proust, the encyclopedic cataloging of Escoffier, and the emotionally engaging prose of MFK Fischer, but these were the exceptions. Most of the food writing has been of a practical nature: books filled with recipes, manuals on preserving the harvest or resource guides. But now food writing delves into experimentation and science, environmental sustainability, community building, cultural diversity, ethics, art, humor and social inequity. Between the more than 60 other bloggers whom I join, all of these subjects are explored. This broader view of the subject of food makes us look beyond our own plates and see the empty plates of others. Please join us in helping to fill those plates tomorrow. Come to buy a tart or cupcake and help people you’ve never met but whom you may unknowingly pass on the street.Will Bake For Food a bake sale to benefit the Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 11am to 2pm University Heights Community Center 5031 University Way NE Seattle, WA 98105 (next to the Saturday Farmers’ Market)