I met James on the M train heading from Manhattan to Knickerbocker Avenue. It was my first day working at a client’s office in Soho. Everything had gone pretty well. It may have just been that glorious end of day feeling, or maybe it was the big bag of Urban Outfitters sale bargains I was carrying – either way, I was elated. I had my head in a book – When you are engulfed in flames, by David Sedaris - as usual. And was laughing out loud like a maniac – also usual.
I’d been gifted the book a while back, by a guy who I’d kissed literally twice in Australia. It was the second time we’d hung out, and had coincidentally also been my birthday. He was nice, but we were entirely wrong for each other, and it was far too early to be giving gifts – but I didn’t really know how to not accept it. As the train started slowing and the illuminated dot on the line map indicated the next stop was mine, I was glad I had. Reluctantly I dog-eared the page, closed the book and got off. The sunset was beautiful. Spring, you are finally here, I thought. I was planning a fancy salmon dinner, but after my spot of retail therapy, it was more than likely going to be an omelette.
I strode down the subway stairs and onto the street, narrowly missing a fresh caramel-coloured dog turd. It constantly surprised me how much Bushwick felt like Vietnam. The warmer weather had lured out a handful of street vendors. Mouth-watering barbeque smoke billowed off a stack of charred kebabs, whisking me away to Hanoi’s old quarter. Two hunched ladies chortled jollily as they deftly sliced fresh mango with a cleaver.
He there! I turned to find a less than average height smiley guy to my right. What are you reading? Oh, Sedaris, I said, presenting the cover. Have you heard of him? Dammit! Why did I ask a question? All I wanted to do was go home put on my tracksuit pants and watch Broad City episodes. Nope! He smiled back. I don’t want this to sound creepy, but I was watching you read on the train. I love watching people’s faces when they read. What was I supposed to say to that? Oh, yeah, reading, I fumbled. Where do you live? He asked, marching to keep up with my quickened pace. Oh, just on Irving, I said, not quick enough to make up an alias address. No, way! Me too! He said. I excused myself and turned hard left into my local grocery store before he figured out which fire escape was mine.
I used to go to the all-organic hana natural nearby, until I got asked on a date while I was fondling avocados. I was wearing awfully unflattering tights and struggling awkwardly around the aisles with a yoga mat. I am certain I clubbed most people I passed over the head with it. Maybe that’s why he noticed me. He struck up this amazingly natural conversation with me about our potential dinner options – it seemed the world, or at least the next meal, was our oyster. In hindsight, his confidence was impressive. In an age where many a romance blossoms first on Tinder, any normal person would be stoked to garner this kind of attention in real life. An hour or so later a text message popped up on my phone, So, when are we hanging out? When six unread texts followed a microsecond later, I decided I needed to find a new supermarket.
Inside my new grocery store, I was waylaid from buying omelette ingredients by a huge specials sign saying; pears: 99c/lb. I grabbed a bunch and made this chocolate, chia and pear cake for dinner. Cake for dinner is kind of weird, you’re probably thinking. Well, life is full of weird, and it's the seemingly unusual that often turns out the best.
- 2 ripe pears, diced
- 1 cup cacao powder
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 4 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- Pinch Himalayan pink salt
- 1 teaspoon each cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla powder
- 1 small can coconut cream, refrigerated
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- For the cake, combine all dry ingredients in a food processor and combine until mixture forms a coarse flour. Remove to a large mixing bowl.
- In the processor, combine eggs, coconut oil, and diced pears until smooth. Pour into dry mix and combine.
- Bake in a moderate oven until bread is springy to touch. This usually takes about 30-40 minutes.
- For the coconut frosting, remove the cream from fridge. The liquid should have all risen to the top when you open it. Pour this off and scoop the remaining solids into the food processor.
- Add honey and salt and pulse until light and fluffy.
- Spoon generously onto the cake, as it isn’t overly sweet.