Confessions of an ILA member

Confessions of an ILA Member 

You’ve tried to hide it. I know it! I’ve seen you hanging around the center table, eyeing the treasure, trying to determine how you can discreetly swipe the left-behinds without looking like you’ve hailed from the backwoods with no manners whatsoever. You have the tools you need, plastic fork and paper plate. But can you pull it off, nonchalantly taking what no one else wanted or the server was too lazy to scoop up? The last guest has been served, but will that server never turn away so you can strike swiftly and discreetly?

Photograph courtesy of Jen Kiwus and Virginia Tech Women’s Club

You’ve tried to hide it. I know it! Your mind is in overdrive, desperately trying to figure out how you can politely ask for the pièce de rèsistance–a corner, what every ILA member covets. But wait, the guest in front of you has been prattling on about how delicious it all looks, her head turning ever so slightly toward that left corner lavished on two sides with a luscious blanket of creamy addiction. The other guests have been submissive, just taking what was doled out to them. But this character in front of you might not settle for the middle.  

But of course, she does not settle and asks for the corner! What now? Do you go for one of the  other two existing corners? Do you outright ask for it or do you point with your whole hand, not a finger (that would be way too impolite)? I’d suggest an ever so casual wave to the corner that has your name and no-one else’s on it! Two can play at this game!

And of course, you’d love to ask if the server could lift just one of the adornments, so carefully piped onto the surface, but that just might be too much, too devastating to the whole decor that has been so thoughtfully designed yet eventually will be decimated. Oh, well, the corner is enough, for now, but should the adornment survive…

Before negotiations

You’ve tried to hide it. I know it! It sits in front of you at the round tables so exquisitely decorated for the celebration. Temptation beckons you. I’ve seen you looking at the guests beside you, across from you, even at other tables. Do they look like folks who will understand if you indulge in your craving?  Might they be willing to help you out? Can you negotiate a  deal with complete strangers that will satisy all parties? A strategic swap would work well–your cake for their icing. Diplomatic skills must be called into action. 

After negotiations

Oh, Icing Lovers Anonymous (ILA) I share your pain. I know how you feel. I too have hung around the table with the cake that proudly boasts “Happy Retirement —— Or Happy Birthday—–Congratulations Mr. and Mrs.—-.“ I have coveted the remainder icing that languishes on the edge of the cardboard  with errant cake crumbs contaminating the abandoned border of buttercream, just asking to be devoured. Why toss such a scrumptious delicacy into the oversized black garbage bag that always seems to loom not too far away from  the reception table?

Yes, I am Phyllis Grace, and I am an Icing Lover addict, adorer, craver. 

Raspberry frosting with cupcake created by
Izzie de Sturler

How many of you have secretly opened a can of Betty Crocker vanilla frosting and eaten every ounce of it, even using your finger to extract every last bit? How many of you bake a cake just so you can make icing and then lick the bowl? You vow that you must clean up around the edges of the cake plate, just as they do on Cake Boss or Cake Wars to be sure the edges are devoid of icing and sparkling clean. This tried and true technique yields you at least one more tablespoon of that German chocolate icing or Seven Minute frosting.

Whether it is a wedding cake, birthday cake, cupcake, or frosted Krispy Kreme doughnut, a napkin must always be close at hand so you can discreetly dab at the corners of your mouth, obliterating any sign of your obsession.  

But beware, if you indulge in blue or black icing, you cannot open your mouth until at least three hours later and three gallons of punch have washed away the traces of the indelible frosting. Trust me, I know this!

Wedding cake designed by Lisa Nappi Albrecht
No, even I wouldn’t desecrate this beauty!

It’s a curse, this addiction to confection, one I can finally discuss. At one point in my life, it filled an empty place in my soul. Crisco and confectioner’s sugar assuaged black hole moments of loneliness and depression. Nothing like a sugar high (supposedly) to get you through a weekend of fighting and hateful accusations or holidays when everyone has coupled up for excursions to the beach or mountains, leaving you home alone. That’s when  you sit on the screened-in porch with a loving cat and a bowl of butter cream frosting. You stare into the green of trees and embrace a sliver of piercing sunlight as a symbol of hope.

And hope comes because you decide you deserve it. That black hole of depression has now been filled with self-confidence, a healthy love, true friends, and now and then just one sinful, rewarding, mouthful of luscious, creamy, wickedly delicious sucrose and shortening.

No more need for me to make my own icing. I can now wait until a birthday, retirement, wedding, or special night out to indulge in my secret passion. If given the choice of Bread Pudding or Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake with dark chocolate frosting, I choose cake. If given the option of Pecan Pie a la mode or Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, I choose cake. Well, ok, I actually choose the icing.

Chocolate raspberry cake created by Izzie de Sturler

And so it goes, the need to feed on icing remains but does not overwhelm. Now and then I enjoy the sugar commingled with the Crisco that invades my taste buds with opulent pleasure. I savor every morsel, every molecule of the concoction before it slowly, luxuriously dissolves, leaving a trail of delight and satisfaction along its path.

Oh, yeah, I still hang out at the cake table, angling for a frosting heavy corner, a huge, yellow royal icing rose, or exceptionally large green leaf—not made of fondant. I do exert some discretion. However, it is no longer a need but a want. I am satisfied, sated, confident. I am an Icing Lover Admirer now, no longer anonymous and proud of it!

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