It was sexy, red with white frills, and shouted “EAT ME!” to every passerby. Was this a poorly chosen lawn-parties dress? No. It was a cake; the best damn cake of all. It is my honor to introduce the magnificent Red Velvet. This piece of work caused quite the commotion in the dining halls last Thursday night, and triggered a never-before-seen phenomenon: a line for the dessert section. To those not familiar with the dining halls (blessed be your souls), the long lines typically develop during rush hours between classes (especially when fried chicken and macaroni are involved), or when that one student can’t decide which piece of broccoli is exactly right.
Cutting these lines have to be executed with subtlety, or not at all. A well-placed high-five with a mate and a swift side step works well. Apologizing to those behind doesn’t. It’s fake and irritating. In contrast, the dessert section doesn’t enjoy the ruckus of the hot food lines. It’s like that classmate named Nigel in middle school; easily ignored and forgotten.
So, when urged by a friend to taste the cake, I was suspicious. Too many times have I been seduced by a dining hall cake, only to be betrayed by blandness and indifferent sweetness, my morning walk of shame weighed down by wasted calories. But Red Velvet was different, not like those other cakes. Its sponge layers sprang gently apart as my fork carved out the first bite. A gentle sponge is like a lover who asks questions in bed: rare and better than you deserve. The icing was just as thrilling: smooth upon the tongue, the subtle sweetness balanced by a faint but crucial inclusion of salted butter. “Butter me up Scotty!” my mind screamed. And then the moment was gone. The slice eaten, the magic over.
Princeton students in general are not very good at complimenting. We are surrounded by so much that screams “BE IMPRESSED” that we have been desensitized to what is humbly good. Sure the avocado was frozen this morning, and the toaster takes twenty minutes to slightly brown your bread. Is it the end of the world? No. Instead of dwelling on the disappointing, the mediocre, let’s look for those moments of dining hall magic—let us raise our frosting-covered cake forks in a toast to the great Red Velvet.