Saturday, July 19, 2008

Post #777: The Food of the Gods

Exactly one hundred and eleven posts back, I celebrated post #666 with a sinfully rich devil's food cake. Now I've come to the opposite post: 777.

Just as with that more ignominious post, I wanted to find a way to spread a little of that heptakosioiheptekontaheptaphilia* around. But what I found was that it's a whole lot more difficult, since far fewer foods are "devilish" or "evil". What I am faced with is not a dearth but an overabundance of "holy / sacred / blessed / angelic foods" and "foods of the gods". It's giving me a high holy headache.

Hitting "the Google" turned into a long, confusing process, as I found that so many cuisines and cultures have specific foods that they consider sacred in some way, shape or form. Just a sampling:

  • Chocolate (or moreover cacao), the main ingredient in devil's food cake, was actually considered by the Aztecs to be humanity's inheritance from the god Quetzalc√≥atl, the "Feathered Serpent". Would anyone really disagree with a god on the divine nature of chocolate?
  • Although mushrooms are not exactly "divine", some cultures have used them for religious (as opposed to recreational) purposes, to get in touch with the divine.
  • Holy Imports brings delicious food from the Holy Land - Israel - to the rest of the world. Along those lines, anything cooked in a specifically kosher or halal manner (Jewish or Islamic, respectively) would technically fit the bill of "holy food".
  • Ghee, that wonderfully delicious, nutty clarified butter, is holy enough that it is used in some Hindu religious rituals. Prayers to Shiva himself may sometimes be accompanied by five holy food items: ghee, sugar, milk, Dahi (whole milk yogurt) and honey.
  • The Ancient Greeks also had a word for the food of the gods: ambrosia.
  • And of course, any food with a religious or holy name automatically makes the list. The problem is weeding down that list of angel food cakes, Ezekiel breads, ambrosias, hot cross buns, and other religious-festival-specific foods (onion bhajis for Holi, gefilte fish for Passover, and so on).
After some deliberation, I thought it would be easiest to follow the same template for my devil's food post: get an appropriately-named cake mix and zhuzh it up. I tried that with a recipe I found on the web for root beer angel food cake: simply make a prepared angel food cake box mix, but replace the water with root beer (I used Stewart's Diet).

The ingredients for the root beer angel food cake

Alas, I did not read the part about putting it in a sheet cake pan. I used this instead:

Yes, one of those silicone bundt cake pans. This one only cost $6 at K-Mart.

This choice of cake pan would be a problem, as I later found out.

It just kept on going up, and up, and up from there. Maybe I should've known, but I had never made an angel food cake before, and I could swear the Duncan Hines box said nothing about avoiding this type of pan (I checked later: it didn't). So fifteen minutes later I was scraping angel food goo off the bottom of my oven. At least it came off easily.

When I tried this again, my assumption was that the foaminess of the batter (thanks to the carbonation of the root beer) caused it to overflow. Wrong! I was about to make the exact same mistake with a traditionally-prepared cake mix (this time from Betty Crocker), when I happened to read far enough on the box to see them suggest either a very deep and wide angel food cake pan or several loaf pans. They specifically suggested that I not use a bundt pan.

And so I ended up putting this in the oven:

No spillage!

This round of cakes, fortunately, turned out much less messy, but still very difficult to break into with your fork. So I wound up picking up my slice (cut with a serrated knife - that much I knew) and eating it like a brownie. All my fork did was put a heavy but unbreakable dent in it.

In summation, I know that people either love angel food cake or hate it. I myself like the flavor (of the conventional stuff, not the root beer-tinged). But I cannot stand the texture. Is this what Purgatory is like, trying to eat a whole field of angel food cakes with a fork and no hands? And the mess in making and cleaning it! Good God. I'll stick with devil's food, thank you very much!

* heptakosioiheptekontaheptaphilia - an admiration of or obsession with the number 777.


Pigtown-Design said...

I am failing miserably... i have only done about 400 on my two blogs combined.

Did ya see Dr. Who last night? The hotel where the family went was the same place my brother and nephew stayed when they were over. I almost started crying when I saw it.

John said...

Saw it? I've already watched the final two episodes of the season (illegally uploaded) on YouTube. I saw how it ended the week before last. I won't give anything away, but it involved Daleks.

Cool about the hotel.