The day break burglar


There was a time in my youth when my mom made cakes and homemade bread. Her specialties were carrot cake and whole wheat rolls. We loved when she baked because the entire house came alive with the smell. I am not sure if I am alone or if my siblings share this feeling, but there is no greater joy than excellent food. I thought my love of food might have come from the fact that I didn't get to enjoy it much in my childhood. I once heard the geodesic dome's inventor, R. Buckminster Fuller, grew up extremely poor and had to wear old rags and hand me downs. When he finally began to earn money, he spent a great deal on fashion. Until his death, he was always seen in public as a sharply dressed man. I guess I am the R. Buckminster Fuller of food. My sister thinks I am just greedy.


Tokyo is the greatest city in the world for foodies. Things are really well prepared here with lots of fresh ingredients and an artisan's attention to fine detail. I don't know if it is because my tongue has gotten used to how things taste here, but there seems to be a better balance of taste with just the right amount of seasoning. The good folks at the Micheline start giving organization seem to think so too. At one point, Tokyo had more Micheline star restaurants than any other city in the world. Although many starred restaurants are grossly overrated, I agree that Tokyo is a heaven for good quality food.


Despite it being the capital of good food, some things are impossible to find in Tokyo. I cannot find butter pecan ice-cream, German chocolate cake, or real corned beef. It is also impossible to find anything that comes close to tasting as good as my mom's whole wheat rolls. They tasted like the stuff foodies dream about. They were light but hearty at the same time. They had a slight buttery after taste that lingered long enough to remind me that the bread I had eaten was indeed real. Unfortunately, bread making was a short-lived hobby. I think we only got to enjoy those rolls for a few short years before she turned her attention to making macrame owls and planters.


Mother's carrot cake was also very special. She knew just the right amount of cinnamon and spices to add to give it an extraordinary flavor. Carrot cake made many more appearances than the rolls did. Somehow, when I was a kid, it didn't dawn on me that carrot cake had actual carrots in it. A few years back, I baked a carrot cake and offered a slice to one of the neighborhood children who had come to the house to play with my daughter. The look of horror on her face when she found out the cake had carrots in it was priceless. When we were kids, we only saw it as one of Mom's amazing desserts.


I remember my mom baking a carrot cake the night before and leaving it on the counter to cool overnight. My brother, who could not wait till it was time to eat it, snuck downstairs in the very wee hours of the morning to steal a slice. I could hear the creak of his footsteps on the old wooden stairs. This was the house we lived in before moving to the projects, so he must have been 3 or 4. I remember hearing the sound of wooden chair legs being dragged across the kitchen tile. I imagined he stood on that chair above his prize to marvel at the beauty of it and admire his own ingenuity. The problem was he had lingered too long and the sound of the chair had been too loud. I could hear the heavy footfall of my mother creaking down the stairs in pursuit of the daybreak burglar. It seemed she had caught him in the act before he could cut himself a slice.


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