A huge glass display with shelf after shelf of the best baked goods I have yet to see matched, except maybe on “Cake Boss.” This display is in Manhattan, I can’t quite remember where, but what I do remember is the variety and plethora of deliciousness.
My mom would take me there whenever I spent the day with her at her job, starting when I was in third grade until I was in sixth grade. Those days were precious. Not the whole day, just the part when I got to enjoy the ultimate greatness of some great baked goods.
Now, I don’t know where my love for the sweet, starchy genre comes from, but I’m not one to complain. Just think how amazing a chocolate chip cookie with warm chocolate milk could be. Think how unbelievable a vanilla cupcake with some magnificent icing would dance on your taste buds. Even more vivid, think of a cake based on the never-failing Oreo, which blows the Double Stuf out of the water. Those are just a couple of examples from what I consider the most dynamic genre of food in the world.
So returning to the store in Manhattan, I would pick something new to try every time we went. Being that I had three years and four times a year to choose my dessert, I had 12 times to try something great and new from this bakery. I was open to any flavor, any type, any style and any look, yet I never tried the Red Velvet.
The infamous Red Velvet cake, cupcakes or any other Red Velvet product scared me away, like a vegetarian at a prime rib cook-off or an 8-year-old boy mistakenly walking into the girls bathroom. I don’t know why I was not interested in the Red Velvet. I couldn’t even figure it out.
It could be the conniving, reddish color that makes me think of “True Blood” or something not connected to baked goodness. It could be the stories I’d heard about the taste not being explainable. You’d think I’d be head-over-heels to try this member of the bakery world, but irrational fear of the unknown Red Velvet kept me at bay.
My life continues. I stop going to work with my mom because I’m slowly becoming a grown-ass man. I stop going to the bakery. Yes, there are other bakeries. Yes, I could try new baked goods whenever I wanted.
Years went by. Sisqo became corny. Kanye arrived. Jay-Z turned 40. But I had yet to taste the Red Velvet.
My irrational fear should have faded through time. I was offered Red Velvet by aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and a stranger with a pretty nice wig and superb dentures, and still I failed to try the cake of legend. Then a fateful trip changed my life.
Focused, ready for my future, I headed out on an excursion to a graduate-school open house somewhere in the southeastern United States with my roommate. It was only a one-night trip, and the experience was one that would stick with me forever, but that was not the only thing of importance. I did something so crazy I almost had to slap myself to realize I wasn’t dreaming or daydreaming or fantasizing or imagining. But I digress.
We stayed the night with an old friend. At the end of our trip, our friend placed a box of cupcakes in front of us, and I almost melted from excitement. It was like realizing I looked old enough to buy alcohol with no ID.
So we open the box and what do I see? Red Velvet. This was the moment I realized: I was 21 years old and had to stop being scared off by this punk Red Velvet. The fisticuffs went up, and I took my first bite.
Imagine waking up in a flowing river of gold with diamonds encrusted on your Louis Vuitton pajamas and finding out you have been elected ruler of the world.