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illustration by the marvelous Zoë Miller

To Hear a Flavor In the ordinary progression of things, it might take a long time to learn what brings someone an immense amount of delight. It takes learning what makes them laugh, and sigh, and fall into a memory, and glimmer with curiosity and surprise. In her poem “Don’t Hesitate,” Mary Oliver writes: Joy is not made to be a crumb. Mary Oliver is a joysmith of the highest order, so when she speaks, I listen. Every time I’ve read this line before, I’ve read it as: joy is not meant to be a crumb; not intended to be reduced to that. But this time, what I read was: joy is not created in order to be reduced to a crumb. To make joy – to craft it, to work a group of ingredients into something tangible and full of delight, and then to share it – to me this seems like the most attentive, tender, and human thing it is possible to do. Baking for someone is a window into their delight (and yours). A wonderful customer and dear friend (and fellow creative) wrote in her review of my tiny bakery, Pies & Pinups: Ever have a tune that won't leave your head... that is sweet on the air? Ever have a chance to EAT that tune!?... because that's what Pies & Pinups is! Now, it may seem ridiculous to quote a review, but the thing is – this is exactly what I hope someone might feel when they take a bite of a cake or a macaron from Pies & Pinups. When I bake, there’s no doubt I’m listening to the flavors – trying to hear what notes make a chord (black sesame, dark chocolate, cherry) or an octave (chamomile, smoked honey) or, in the case of a cake, a whole string quartet. If the recipient can hear a bit of that music when they taste those flavors, then I’m over the moon. Music, poetry, and flavor have been at the core of what I love as long as I can remember. The Apothecakery is a new wing of the menu I’m launching so that I can listen even more closely to what others love and what they remember. Each order will begin with a cake consultation, where I’ll ask you a series of questions: What is a favorite landscape of yours? A favorite memory? A favorite piece of music? What flavors do you love the most? What emotion are you currently feeling, and what emotion do you want to feel while you’re eating this cake? Then, I’ll transform these answers into a Cake Rx – a cake prescription. As Kate Lebo writes in a LitHub article “Making and Remaking Recipes On and Off the Page,” The word “recipe” originated as a doctor’s set of instructions—a prescription for medicine from the French (which got it from the Latin) for “take!” (exclamation point from the Online Etymology Dictionary). This definition persists now only through the pharmacist’s abbreviation Rx. A prescription for joy, accompanied by a gorgeous illustration of your answers and the cake by local artist Zoë Miller. We made the first one for me, which you can see here – the nasturtiums and sungold tomatoes, remembered from a childhood friend’s farm in summer. The logo for the Apothecakery was designed by another local artist and fellow baker, Rachel Conroy. (This piece was originally published in What's Hot Magazine's September 2023 issue.)

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