Can you still picture in your mind a perfect meal, precious slice of pie or lipsmacking gooey cake that is reserved for your wildest most detailed dreams where you salivate and savour these delights over and over again. I take great pleasure in filing these treats into my culinary memory bank. The textures, smell, and colours are all expertly recorded and if by chance a new experience creates a more exciting, pulsating even passionate attachment l will ruthlessly discard an old archive, considering it inferior, less satisfying.
I have had the perfect Sacher Torte in a Spa Cafe in Vienna, late November 2005, accompanied by a supremely fragrant pot of Earl Grey tea. Now just over a decade later l am standing before another that looks very promising in Alpbach village, my ski holiday resort.
I rehearse my German to place my order at the Dorff café which still has two and a half hours to go before closing time. Astonishingly my school girl German receives a firm ‘ Nein’ and lm directed to alternative choices of Schokolade Creme Pie, which looks like a Magnum that’s fallen off its stick, A Lemon Drizzle Cake, or the usual Strudel. When l start to sulk l lose my ability to be polite, so l wave my arms around like a mad windmill and demand a piece of Sacher Torte in machine gun English. ‘ l want THAT TORTE PLEASE’.
lf l hadn’t said please l think they would have thrown me out there and then. All heads swivelled in my direction to see who this rude tourist was who wasn’t still skiing on their beautiful mountain at three in the afternoon. My sort of manners belonged in the apres ski bars not in their chintzy café. It was explained why l couldn’t have my Torte. The last piece from a previous TORTE had just been sold and they wouldn’t break into a new one even though there were two right in front of me, tantalising me with their freshness. Was it because l was flying solo on this Torte trip ? Had l been stood there with a horde of other hungry Torte devourers would they have relented, guaranteed a larger sale. Had l been better dressed in real English afternoon tea clothes rather than sweaty ski gear would they have taken pity on my picky plight.
I wasn’t going to leave without some culinary delight so l relented, selected a huge piece of Strudel, soused in a dinner plate sized portion of warm vanilla sauce. It was satisfying in an earthy Bedknobs and Broomsticks kind of fashion, but l had to share it with a host of dive bomber wasps who seemed intent on death by vanilla sauce inhalation. My only real compensation was the magnificent blazing sun that drenched the whole terrace where l ate. I left the wasps to drown in ecstasy on the plate while l soaked up the rays through my base layer. Hell l didn’t care if the other punters were watching while l did a ski – triptease. Let them look. This was what went in my carefully crafted culinary memory bank : the haughty stares of local yodels while l spooned mashed up Strudel into my delighted sunkissed face.
The search for another sacred Sacher Torte goes on. You can’t satisfy every craving in an afternoon but you can have a damn good try !😎