The most perfect chocolate cake in fiction?
February 7, 2015 5:26 PM   Subscribe

I vaguely recall a Louise Erdrich story which has a character obsessed with finding the recipe for the most perfect Sacher Torte that he tasted when he was young. Which book is it?

I do remember what that secret ingredient is, so there is a bit of a spoiler alert if you want to politely save the final plot twist for other readers.

While we're here, we're also curious to hear about other fiction stories about epic quests searching for long-lost recipes...
posted by ovvl to Food & Drink (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Antelope Wife, but it was a blitzkuchen and not a sacher torte.
posted by dayintoday at 5:43 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

The chocolate cake scene in Roald Dahl's Matilda, both the book and movie, is very memorable, if more disgusting than delightful.
posted by smorgasbord at 1:13 AM on February 8, 2015

I wonder whether these obsessions with finding recipes is because taste sometimes triggers an 'involuntary memory' which holds ‘an essence of the past’ that we become obsessed with finding.

Marcel Proust talked about 'involuntary memory', in his novel À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past). He described a moment when he was eating tea-soaked cake, and a childhood memory of eating tea-soaked cake with his aunt was "revealed" to him. From this memory, he then proceeded to be reminded of the childhood home he was in, and even the town itself - which forms the basis of the book.

A more contemporary example (which was no doubt inspired by Proust’s writing) featured in Pixar’s Ratatouille. In the movie, France's top restaurant critic Anton Ego, eats a variation of the simple dish ratatouille, which brings back an 'astonished' Ego memories of his mother's cooking.
posted by guy72277 at 6:51 AM on February 9, 2015

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