I confess. I am very opinionated about cake, particularly wedding cake. I like good cake -- fresh, moist, not overly sweet. I also love pretty wedding cakes, but prefer taste over the appearance any day of the week. I am writing about cake this week because the world is buzzing about the anticipated royal wedding. There has been a lot of hype about the dress, but what about the wedding cake?
The Anticipated Royal Wedding Cake
According to some reports, the royal couple will have two cakes. One will be a traditional fruit cake with dried raisins, walnuts, cherries, grated orange and lemons. The fruits will be soaked in French brandy overnight. It's rumored to be decorated with white and cream icing in the Lambeth Method, a popular English style with intricate piping and scrollwork and approximately 16 different types of flowers, each with a different symbolic meaning. This was popular in Victorian times (see article). The second is to honor Prince William's request for his childhood favorite, chocolate biscuit cake. Apparently, he is opinionated about cake, too.
History of Wedding Cakes
To give a little history, wedding cakes date back to Roman times. They began with the breaking of a round loaf of bread over the bride's head and guest scrambling for the crumbs. Thankfully, this tradition changed when cakes got larger and this was impractical. In the 18th century, guest brought home a slice and tucked it under their pillow in hopes of making a future love connection. The wedding cakes that we know today are linked to English royalty. Queen Victoria reportedly made the multi-tiered cake popular. One portion of her cake was approximately three meters long and over 150lbs. Cakes have only gotten bigger and more extravagant since Victoria's big day. Now we are fascinated with wedding cakes. Think Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, and the Amazing Wedding Cakes TV shows.
Eating Cake Mindfully
Many of us naturally eat wedding cake mindfully whether we know it or not. In general, this is very different than how we approach cakes made for birthdays, anniversaries and showers. We begin by looking at a wedding cake very closely. The cake is often presented on a special table. You see the wedding cake and think about what it tastes like a long time before you eat it. In other words, this isn't a cake you just dive into. It's often a work of art, which changes your expectations of what it tastes like. Some cakes are so exquisitely decorated that it is difficult to cut into them.
At most weddings, due to the cost, you only get a little sliver. Consider how you would eat a huge hunk of birthday cake versus a tiny slice. Would you make it last longer? Really taste it? Even people who aren't that picky about food have a lot to say about wedding cake. They discuss the flavor, the texture, if it is dry or moist, if they enjoyed it and whether it met expectations or not. It's likely that you might not feel pressure to finish your piece if you don't like it because wedding cakes have many symbolic meanings. It's not just about eating it. In other words, a lot of thought goes into the entire experience and meaning of the cake.
The next time you eat any kind of cake, try eating it mindfully. Take a close look at it. Imagine what it would taste like. Really savor it. Evaluate whether you really like the taste and the texture. If you don't like it, don't feel pressure to finish mediocre cake. On the other hand, if it is stellar cake, savor and enjoy it mindfully.
What is not mindful eating is taking the piece of cake home and saving it for a hundred years. A slice or two from Queen Victoria's wedding in 1840 was saved and tucked away. You can see it on display (oh yes, you can). This is my recommendation. If you are so lucky as to get a slice of William and Kate's cake, don't save it, please eat it mindfully!
Best wishes Kate & William. I hope you get to enjoy every bite of your wedding cake.
Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns, and mindfulness. She is the author of 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink, and Be Mindful, and Mindful Eating 101 and is a Huffington Post blogger. Her books have been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, O, the Oprah Magazine, Natural Health, Self Magazine and on the Dr. Oz TV show. Visit Albers online at http://www.eatingmindfully.com