The reason I was inspired to write this? Because I visited Christopher’s Table, which has sandwiches, bakery items and a wine bar. I stopped by the other night with a girlfriend for a sip of sauvignon blanc at the newly-opened wine bar. Posted the visit on Facebook, reminding folks that they’re open in the evening for a glass and a bite. And as I typed, here’s what came out (fat-fingers-on-small-virtual-smart-phone-keyboard syndrome).
- Friend: Ooh, how was it? Can’t wait to try it there!
- Me: Great atmosphere, good music and intimate setting for friends or couples. Nice selection of wine and small plate apps. Plus his naked goods. Great for evening out or probably as before or after dinner destination. We hung out a while. Relaxing. Nice. Very Christopher.
Did anyone catch the typo above? Look twice. I tried to correct it, but the humor was already spilling out.
- Me: baked goods, not naked goods. argh
- Friend’s reply: I was wondering what that was about!??? :
- Me: iphone typing and it substitutes its interpretation of your words. fabulous and embarrassing. argh again
- Another friend: still open?
- … Christopher: Hey, I’m glad you had a good time but would you leave my naked goods outta this!
Hah! Earlier that day, I had sampled Christopher’s baked goods (not naked goods) at an event celebrating one of Rotary’s projects: the centennial park, playing fields and recreational grounds it funded, which are now used by the local YMCA. Our local bank provided a tray of his cookies and cupcakes for the party. And yes, I had one.
Okay, don’t chuckle. After ranting in past entries about what we want and what we need, working to balance our cravings, and all those good-intentioned entries, I’m now writing about cupcakes.
Cupcakes, and the good they do in the world. I admit it. I’m a hypocrite, specifically on the subject of cupcakes. I’ve written about trying to maintain equilibrium. And admitted that food can be a challenge for me. But Christopher’s cupcakes have their own special place in my heart. They trump all the reasons for “why versus why not.”
So why cupcakes? Because they do good.
Our family’s foundation Bright Happy Power brings snacks into Childrens Hospital Boston when we host community events. We often bring healthy food and beverages (never soda).
We also bring white bakery boxes tied with string. Ordered from and prepared by Christopher’s Table’s. Filled with cupcakes! They’re carefully ported from Ipswich to Boston, displayed in cupcake trees, and shared with parents, patients and staff.
100-150 of them. Gone by the end of the party.
And let me tell you … you know when a cupcake is homemade. Or “baked-by-hand-in-a-commercial-kitchen-by-Christopher.” They’re just … delish.
Plus he’ll creatively top and decorate them for us, and make them with seasonal flavors. Pumpkin or apple-spice cupcakes in the fall, for instance. The families and patients know when his goodies are coming … they’re quite popular.
Now this means I’m bringing delicious, but indulgent goodies onto the hospital units. I’m a mom … I know what I’m doing. And even though Christopher is a well-informed father of two busy boys, he’s also an artist and a baker. So there must be a small amount of sugar in what he makes. Sure, some of the ingredients can be described as wholesome, but perhaps only the naughty sense! Flour and eggs combined in ways that aren’t low on carbs, calories or anything else!
Oh. So. Good.
That’s what Christopher’s cupcakes, in this setting, are all about. Indulgence. A small bite of something that tastes like home. An escape. A celebration of this particular moment.
All the reasons we shouldn’t eat it? (For instance, this sort of item is more commonly banned in classrooms now, due to allergies, juvenile diabetes, obesity and other concerns.) For a few hours at the hospital, we set those arguments aside.
At Childrens Hospital Boston on transplant and cancer units, the issues are larger. More extreme. Life-and-death. If you can deliver a small taste of something less critical, and transport people to a different place with their taste buds, for as long as it takes to empty the cupcake papers … that’s a good thing.
You see, food is one of many issues in a patient’s life. Staff are experts in nutrition, and its interaction with the disease, the infectious complications, and the medications used for treatment. Parents, even if they didn’t worry about diet and calories and the ingredients in food before this experience, quickly become well-versed in the necessity to eat well, to eat at all, to pay attention to menus, ingredients, diet and nutrition. Some foods are safe, some aren’t. Some children have so many sores throughout their GI tract from treatment, from gums and mouth to intestines, that they can’t eat anything (but one soft melty bite of cupcake just might slip through). Some are ravenous with specific cravings. Some patients don’t want sweet … they desire salt-salt-crunch-crunch. Some children receive calories and nutrition intravenously through an IV tube or pumped by nasal or stomach-tube, or other methods. Many need supplements. Some kids can’t keep food down; it comes back up. Some children can’t eat for extended periods of time, because they’re undergoing a procedure, or their system has been so badly damaged, that they’re not allowed any oral foods. We’ve personally experienced many of these scenarios.
As parents living with a healthy child and one on treatment, we strove to provide sound eating habits that could translate between home and hospital. Yet when it was a struggle to tempt Jessie to eat anything, we’d be happy if she wanted linguine with red sauce and sprinkle cheese, salty black olives, or sushi dipped in soy sauce (notice the salty undertones). And we’d gladly supply pancakes with syrup and mint ice cream and vanilla chai tea (notice the sweet cravings in that list).
Cupcakes would have been perfectly acceptable at that time. (Especially if combined with an apple.) So now, when we visit the hospital, there are always enough hungry, missing-home-and-a-taste-of-something-special fans to make the white pastry boxes a wise investment.
Plus the power of comfort food remains potent. It can ease a soul, as well as a belly. It can make someone smile, in the middle of unimaginable strain. It is delivered in a playful setting, when we bring crafts and games, and create a respite from the boredom, stress and ennui of extended periods in the hospital.
We just share the goodness. Some waist-watchers will maintain self-discipline and pass up the desserts. Others will nibble and ooh-ahhh. Families know, before they come to the party, that food will be offered. If it’s not okay for the patient, a volunteer might put together a kit for a staff member to bring to the patient’s, so they get the party without the temptation.
But before we leave Childrens Hospital, the white pastry boxes are empty, their cheer disseminated to nursing stations and patient beds for popular consumption.
The other aspect of taking care of yourself in acute circumstances? To keep up your emotional fortitude. Your morale. Your optimism and sense of hope. And that can be where goodies such as cupcakes …in moderation, of course … have a role.
That’s the bare, honest, naked truth … my confession … about my ongoing relationship with Christopher’s cupcakes.