Our Daily Correspondent


Albert Roosenboom, The Tempting Cake (detail), nineteenth century.

On Wednesday, I mentioned to you a certain menu description. This description caused something of an existential crisis. I wept; I ranted; I pondered existence. But life is not just a vale of tears!

I might still be lying in bed, paralyzed by the enormity of everything, had I not been saved by yet another piece of food-related writing. This one came courtesy of a slightly outdated gourmet-store catalogue I picked up at the airport last week. I say “outdated” because it contained a number of Easter and Passover treats available for purchase. I always find looking at food relaxing, but when I opened it, I found that this catalogue was much more than just pretty pictures and appetizing captions. It was riveting.

The prose was bold, even dashing. Also, bizarre. Here is a description of all-butter croissants:

Boasting French connections of the cuisine nature, they immediately bring to mind afternoons on the Seine. Indeed, it is their verity that affords them this intensely delicious recall.

On a certain flowering tree, sold in the garden center:

Just in time for Easter, these thespians make a gorgeous, ornamental impact with their mounded, weeping habit and abundant early spring blooms—a dress rehearsal, indeed!

But here is my favorite of all:

Our Easter cakes are super dare we say “cute”? Well of course we dare, because they are decorated with with icing grass and malted chocolate eggs! See? CUTE!

I love the deliriously unfettered oddness of these captions. I love that someone had fun with them. I love that no one who encounters them can simply read them and move on—you have to stop and reread and think, Someone did this! And then, yes, wonder if that cake is, indeed, cute. I’ll be the judge of that, I thought. I was irritated and challenged and intrigued. It was the way I had once imagined Internet dating could be: knowing in a few words that you had met a kindred spirit; wanting to immediately know everything about them, yet feeling you could guess the important things already.

I went to the Web site to try to find the cute cake, but it was too late. We’ll have to take the caption writer’s word for it. But know that, whatever the objective truth, one thing is for sure: as the stalker at the end of Stolen Kisses would have it, “les gens sont formidables.” (Boasting French connections of a cinematic nature.)