Saturday, December 22, 2012

The British Fork Rule (and Major Exception)

Brits, as a rule, use a knife and fork to eat most things. Including, but not limited to: pizza, hamburgers, picnic food, and fruit.


There is one FIRM exception to this rule.

Birthday cake.

Not the birthday cake that you serve adults at the end of a dinner party. There, forks are allowed. Nay, compulsory!

This bizarre fork-less birthday cake takes two forms, as far as I can tell from my extensive anthropological research on the subject.

First, children's parties. For reasons I cannot fathom, the assembled sing Happy Birthday to the relevant kid, then the parents take the cake away. They bring it back, wrapped in napkins (icing and all!) and then put it in the party bags with the party favours. This results in a number of possible outcomes.
a. The kid demands to eat his cake in the car on the way home (sans fork, obv.). Even cake distribution throughout vehicle ensues.
b. The cake becomes unwrapped and coats the inside of the party bag, favours included.
c. The cake is forgotten and rediscovered 2 months later, at the bottom of the kid's backpack. Science experiment!

Why not just feed the cake to the kids at the party (with plates and forks)? They're already good and sugared up anyway, guaranteeing a meltdown in the car on the way home.

Second, at-the-office "it's my birthday and I've brought cake" cake.

Aside: this is something that I don't understand: why do I have to bring cake on my birthday? YOU should bring cake on my birthday. I will make you cake on YOUR birthday. Most people just buy donuts and cake at the grocery store and bring it in. I spend the night before my birthday making brownies, apple cake, and cupcakes (or some similar combination). Not that I mind, it's just odd.

Anyway, once this cake arrives at the office, even if it would normally be eaten with a fork and a plate, it is immediately transformed into finger food. There are no exceptions for icing or general gooey-ness.

This whole post, by the way, was inspired by a colleague's birthday about 2 weeks ago, where I found myself eating (and trying unsuccessfully not to wear) a large piece of very delicious Betty Crocker chocolate fudge cake with chocolate frosting. Without a fork.


Vivren said...

This observation is super weird. I need to research this more!

Also, I completely agree with you. On your birthday someone else should make YOU a cake!

janerowena said...

What can I say? You are right! When I started work my mother warned me that I would have to make cake for the whole office. It didn't rise very well but they still ate it! It's the one time that we allow ourselves to get mucky fingers, although I think the numbers eating pizzas and burgers with the hands is on the rise. Party cake in bags isn't obligatory, it's just the best way to get rid of the stuff, pass it on to someone else. If you can get them to sit still long enough to eat it at the party, then go ahead.