Pink. The bakery is pink. It’s a cutesy turquoise blue sort of pink. Maybe I should stretch that a bit and call it vegan pink, but that might give away my prejudice and after all I am here to eat not as a vegan but as a flag bearing, screaming, painted face member of the meat-eating Paleo tribe. That fact that it is a vegan bakery is a side note I am choosing to ignore. I celebrate the use of eggs. I eat three every morning, fried, scrambled with spinach, or soft-boiled. My muffins are better for it, so is my dairy free coconut whipped topping. Go eggs. I have to confess though; I do like the color pink. I have had an obsession with the color ever since I came “out.” I won’t go in to details but let’s just say while I don’t look good in a pink dress shirt, there are other items of clothing I can wear that I do look good in. In hindsight I may have always been a fan of the color pink, but afraid to like it, as I didn't want to be found out. And liking the color pink was such a small sacrifice, but now, it is a symbol of my rebellious side, my sexy side, but this café is not that sort of pink.
It is Sunday morning, or late morning and I am sitting at a small bench-table inside the collectively quaint and cute, petite bakery Back to Eden: a vegan-gluten free establishment. I am alone. This is the first Sunday since I have arrived to Portland that my friend Wenzl has not joined me. Sunday breakfast with Wenzl is a tradition that goes back to when we first met in South Lake Tahoe where we would go to Ernie’s for coffee, omelets, and biscuits and gravy, with a brief hold-over for five years while I pursued my dreams in Alaska. Now that I am back, we have picked up where we left off, only there have been some changes. This Sunday she was in Bend with her family and her boyfriend, Jacob, who if I had to guess would one day become family. He is one of the changes. While I am glad he is here in her life, when I first arrived I had been reluctant to share. My inner Diva, and I have had arguments. As much as we want life to stay the same, to never change, except for us, because that’s different, our friends should remain, the sitcom, the drama, the supporting characters they always have been. The truth is, though, everything changes- story-lines characters, boyfriends, engagements. And so you make room for one more person at the table, maybe one day two. I was reluctant to go to breakfast this morning, but I am also loathe to break tradition and it gives me time to think. Today- I think in pink.
I am gulping a fuchsia infused marion-berry coffee cake. It is moist, sweet, crunchy, salty, and only a hint of hippie healthiness in the after bite. I congratulate myself on tasting the applesauce that I think sweetens the cake. I am comparing my baking results with theirs, while I try to come up with descriptive terms to describe what I am eating. I am worried this blog will be less about the food I am eating and more about me and what’s on my mind. But I am distracted. Everyone who walks into the café, looks vegan, and what does that mean? Well- skinny, but lithe-skinny, stylish in a dressed down way, picky as hell, and reeking of desperation. The attendant behind the counter is a beaming, smile of patience. I do not get the feeling that there are regulars in there this morning, or that they have regulars, since it feels like an oasis of self-discovery in a desert of meat, breads, and refined sugars. Everyone seems to have the, oh, I can eat that again, sort of expression in their words, their dropped mouths, and their pale faces. The showcase is beautiful, or pretty in pink. The glass reveals cupcakes with swirled chocolate frosting, crumbled bars, ungainly round cookies, kale salads, curry, and a handwritten sign advertising biscuits and gravy. Then, in the back, a chalkboard filled with ice cream options: sundaes, root beer floats, banana splits, servings by the scoop- bless the inventors of Coconut Bliss. They have saved us all.
A woman walks in, and stumbles into the choice, sunny spot by the window. The kind of spot where poetry gets written or someone paints tiny portraits of cats to sell at Crafty Wonderland. It is the spot I wanted. She invades it and tangles herself in it. I become more interested in my tea, unless I am caught staring. She is wearing a sweet-ass sweater, and from the looks of it, reminiscent of the Aran Islands in Ireland. This is a fisherman’s knit. She exclaims to no one in particular. Her purse-leash is caught on her back. The other man in the room gets up to help her. She tells him, apologetically, her head hurts too much to turn and undo it. I amazed that as hung-over as she is, she manages to dress well- at Ernie’s we threw on whatever, t-shirt, sweatshirt, dirty pants, where did you find those shoes we had, and although we walked it was with sunglasses, undone hair, quietly grumbling about coffee. If this is what it is like to look hung-over in Portland, then maybe I should drink more.
-Back to the coffee cake. This is definitely the 10 percent in my 90/10 diet. As my doctor explained to me, one day soon, I would be 80/ 20 as he worked with me to build up buffers zone so that I can have the occasional treat, latte, or triple layer chocolate mousse torte with vanilla bean ice cream. I did go on the diet to be healthy, but I am not shy about stating that I also did so, so that I could eat chocolate again. What is life without sweetness? This coffee cake though is meant to be breakfast, and totally not enough to eat, not for my diet, but as this is a vegan-gluten free bakery, there are no eggs. Damn.