Cake metaphors

What does it mean, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too?” The saying alludes to not being able to do two things at once, or to be able to both consume something and to hold onto it, conserve it, at the same time. Consumption is a matter of destruction, at odds with conservation. This perhaps medieval phrase then goes to the heart of a very contemporary problem – consuming versus conserving and all the things that go with them. You can’t conserve (the planet) while at the same time consuming it. This goes for food as much as for everything else. “You can’t have the best of both worlds” is another way of saying it. This term probably needs an update – “You might not even be able to have a world if you keep on thinking you can have the best of both”. It’s sage advice, but it’s not a piece of cake to do. Nowadays, it takes the cake to think that anyone could both have their cake and eat it too. But to try to go against the trend of consuming, globally, well, it’s no cakewalk. As I write this, I realise that I don’t know what a cakewalk is, so I look it up. It is, according to the world-wide source of knowledge and trivia, a jazz-based dance that became fashionable around the turn of the twentieth century. They stopped dancing the cakewalk when life suddenly stopped being a cakewalk, in the first half of the twentieth century. Which brings me to how I started thinking about this in the first place – a menu in a restaurant in Bologna that has in prime place on its dessert menu ‘A cabaret of pastries’. I didn’t try, can’t imagine. Or rather I can – lively vibrant puffs of delight, kicking up their legs in pleasure. Not serious in the ways that cake can be. Cabaret pastries might be a distraction from the cake paradox, of both eating your cake and having it to hold. I haven’t seen anyone with the courage to promote them outside of Bologna. A pity really, they would probably sell like hot cakes.

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