Pastry school ruined my sweet tooth.
Once, my landscape of sugar options was vast and varied. Twinkies were amazing. Any midnight visit to a diner called for a sliced of pie. I kept a jar of maraschino cherries in the fridge like some people keep mustard.
All this was before I enrolled at The French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center). There, I put on kitchen whites for the first time. I learned how to hold a piping bag and witnessed the many perils that can befall a wooden spoon left in the wrong place.
What also happened was that I was shown what really good food was. Every class started with the fresh baked baguettes made by the bread students at the end of the hall. We were taught how to make chocolate from scratch — as in straight from the cacao pod.
Without realizing it, my tastes began to change. My palette was shifting.
I found that I could taste pie dough not made with butter. Or a candy bar with inferior chocolate.
If this comes across as bragging, I’m not. Frankly, this left me kind of in mourning.
At first, I felt turned around. I had never considered myself a food snob. In 2009, I don’t think I’d heard the term foodie. I only identified as a sweet tooth. Thought that pretty well captured my very open enthusiasm for all things dessert.
As classes and internships exposed me to different ingredients and techniques, it dawned on me I was crossing some sort of gustatory threshold that I’d never return from. It was both a loss and a profit.
Today I’m different. I crave dark chocolate now. Even so, my everyman tendencies still come out to party now and again. Which brings me to the topic of cake.
See, at the end of the day, you gotta be true to yourself. That may mean maraschino cherry upside cake with pineapple.