101 in 1001 {III}: 036 enter a cooking or baking contest [completed 05.18.13]

while competing in a cooking or baking contest isn't especially difficult, finding a suitable one to enter is kind of rough. how does that even work outside of, like, county fairs and food television? i felt like the universe was tugging on my shirtsleeve when i got an email about a neighborhood cupcake-off in williamsburg last weekend: it seemed comparatively mellow, last-minute entrants were fine, and proceeds went to charity. also, let's be honest, my dark and stormy cupcakes are the shit. my friend lesley had at least two at her bachelorette party and i think she's paleo.

so: cupcaking. the event was held in a notorious den of foodies* and i figured i didn't have much of a shot at straight-up winning; presentation, on the other hand, i could do. i thought broken umbrellas were a win, but the little paper cocktail versions i had were awfully tropical and, when artfully mangled, said "hurricane" rather more loudly than "the shitty umbrellas you buy from some guy on the subway when you're caught in a storm on the way to the office and end up busting and throwing away two weeks later." luckily my sister (hooray sister!) noted that the shiny wrappers i'd found in the cupcake section at sur la table** made the cupcakes themselves look like little garbage cans. with that i felt we were in the clear.

ye cupcake entry

see how not-all-that-wobbly my penmanship is? one would never guess that the gal at the ticket counter encouraging me to get friendly with the crowd and talk up my goods had just caused my hands to shake so badly i had to delegate cupcake-quartering*** to my sister! i was fine five minutes later, it's - i like to feed people, but i'm deeply shy, and more of a lobsterman than a hostess. i thought i would just set up my stuff, motor off, and then come back later to haul up the traps. this crowd had petitions, and bow ties, and one lady was wearing a baby, and i don't want to look at people while they're eating or to have them look at me, and i was wearing a sort-of see-through shirt (they are a theme this spring, apparently). i spent most of the cupcake caucus skulking around in the store outside the event, is what i'm saying, and i am okay with that.


as hinted in my last post, i contemplated voting for myself for the people's choice award. i did in fact like my cupcake best, but i felt it would be unsporting to put a ticket in my own mason jar (yes, one votes for one's favorite cupcake in a mason jar; shut up, esb). sadly, my actual vote was even more ungentlemanly: i was going to go for an entrant who had pleased me by using salt, but she had an early lead and i still kind of wanted to win, so i went third-party. cupcaking pipes integrity from you like so much buttercream frosting.

the presentation award went to a gal who arranged little spikes of bacon on top of her cupcakes like the skeksi palace in the dark crystal (quite cool). innovation went to a baker of tamarind cupcakes who fell ill and left before the winners were announced(!), the judges gave top honors to an elvis cupcake (bacon/peanut butter/banana, i assume; i skipped the baconful entries), and the early leader (a professional cupcaker!) won people's choice. there was a respectable handful of tickets in my jar at the end of the night; though i won't enjoy free berries for the summer,**** i feel like the cakes were appreciated. when asked to introduce myself and my baking to the crowd, i said in a steady voice that i like bad weather.

imaginary reading group discussion questions

01 have you ever entered a cooking or baking contest? what happened?

02 have you ever voted for a third-party candidate?

03 speaking of baking, i now have a tumblr featuring birthday cakes for animals. how about that?

04 are you a cupcake enthusiast?

*i've been trying to register for one of their weekend knife-skills classes for at least four thousand years and five deep flesh wounds; jumping on that calendar is harder than getting reservations at pdt.

**holy shit, cupcake section at sur la table.

***even after the quartering, anyone who tried all of the entries would have ended up eating the equivalent of at least...four whole cupcakes? the judges looked a little shaky by the time we wrapped up.

****heading out to brooklyn each week for a CSA share would have been a pain in the ass, but damn, that was a good prize.


Anonymous said...

M D F said...
01: I wrote R. Mutt on a 2 liter Mountain Dew I put out for a work potluck. Ended up I drank it. 03: Can meat be truly cake?! 04: Non-practicing. 0?: You didn't litter your cupcake with dead mice, I see, or employ dog food frosting, but have the cakes on your blog influenced any recent culinary work?

lauren said...

stay tuned for a scorching cardboard-herring mojito post.

esb said...

I still love a good mason jar.

Rachel said...

The thing about mason jars is that they're highly functional and cheap. I give them a pass. But maybe I'm biased, since I spent all weekend arranging flowers in mason jars.

I can't believe you had to chat up your baked goods. I might have left the event.

Right move with the third party candidate. If the voting is semi-public, you cannot vote for yourself. There's a pretense to uphold.

lauren said...

i had a feeling you would understand on the salesmanship. i like to think the tamarind gal bolted for that reason and won anyway. phantom bakers! we bake with love, and a mysterious winter wind.

Anonymous said...

jacob said...

bacon on cupcakes is such an obvious pander that i don't even need ethical reasons to oppose it on principle.

Amanda said...

4. I would have just dropped off two-dozen glazed doughnuts/donuts and hightailed it out of there, but I have a terrible attitude.

Celia said...

as a woman who is a fan bacon, for the love of the baby jesus, can we please stop putting on/in EVERYTHING and just serve it with some goddamned eggs for breakfast the way it was intended to be eaten?! and can we please now stop making screen prints about how much we LOVE bacon?!

i'm sorry, but food fads tend to enrage me. and i expect more from you, brooklyn.