Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Wretched cupcakes


I blame Sex and the City, I really do.

I'm sitting here contemplating Christmas day with no fewer than 10 magazine lift outs in front of me, all spelling out the various ways one can whip up a feast on December 25.

I'm seriously contemplating attempting to cater this momentous day, but with absolutely no natural ability to do so.

What do these two things - Christmas cooking pressure and Sex and the City - have in common?

Well, bear with me on this one. I was perhaps 26 or 27 when Sex debuted and I was living in North America at the time.

The show was an absolute sensation on so many fronts. It was bold, saucy, and intelligent, and legitimised the sexually promiscuous single lifestyle.

It also gave birth to the idea that it was ok to eat cupcakes.

Of course, if you look like Sarah Jessica Parker there's no way in hell that you ever allow yourself to look at a cupcake, let alone eat one. And that goes for all her skinny mates.

Nevertheless, the sight of desirable women actively feeding their sweet fetish was truly revolutionary at the time.

The 1980s and early 90s were all about low fat this, no carbs that; the cabbage diet, Vogels diet, white flour-free diet and liver cleansing. I grew up in a household of women constantly on diets and cake was really the last thing any one of us ever allowed ourselves.

So suddenly these incredibly cool women are eating baked goods and the world goes wild.

Cupcake madness is now truly entrenched. There are hundreds of shops devoted to cupcakes, and women are their main clientele.

Now the pressure is on to not only visit a cupcake store and enjoy the goods, but ALSO to appear as body-tastic as Kim Catrall (Samantha).

The problem is that not only have cupcakes gained legitimacy, but home baking in general is now back in vogue.

I live in close proximity to the Dulcie May Bakery, which has staked its not inconsiderable reputation on cakes and slices "just like grandma used to make". And is making a killing.

When stay-at-home mothers visit each other now in my neck of the woods, they more frequently than not, turn up with home baking. Home baking they are forced to take home with them, or that the host discreetly has to junk after her guests have left because it's more dangerous left lying in the house than a roof full of asbestos.

I have had cupcakes at almost every "event" I've attended in the last four years - be it baby showers or a 10 o'clock playdate. Usually Nigella Lawson's.

One of my friends even had a birthday cake which was a collection of some 25 different cupcakes!

I now find - to my horror - that the cupcake and baking drive has spilled over into everyday life.

And so, families are asked to treat themselves to the full-on Christmas day feast, all the better if you have a few slivers of Pancetta; much better with a soupcon of shaved truffle or a dollop of cruelty-free fois gras.

Of course it is totally my fault that I find myself staring at page upon page of DIY Christmas spreads: no one is holding a gun to my head and telling me to prepare something for a party of 10 or be deported to Siberia.

But, pathetically, it's that typical Superwoman urge in me that drives me on to culinary adventure - and my family to indigestion, no doubt.

Whatever the case, I will continue blaming Sex and the City for both my expanding waistline and my accursed Christmas 10-course banquet.

You can bet I will curse it frequently as I break my neck racing to the TV set to catch re-runs every night at 8pm!

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Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

Read more by Dita De Boni

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