Thinking about ‘taking the cake’

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2015

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Well, that takes the cake.” It means that something or someone is either outrageous or outstanding and above all the rest.

It’s an old saying with versions that go all the way back to Greek literature and even Will Shakespeare used it, sort of. Its American usage began in the 1800’s as communities might have a cake-walk, a strutting contest to see who might walk with the greatest style. The prize for the winner of the cake-walk was a cake and the winner was said to have “taken the cake.”

These days, using the outrageous meaning, might include someone who has tattoos from head to toe and of whom it might be said, “I’ve seen lots of tattoos on people, but that man over there takes the cake.”

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I was thinking about cake because a Mitchell County friend of mine passed away recently. There were many things I could have said about him, but there was one memory that takes the cake, literally. I’ll tell you about it in a minute, but first, let me pose a question.

Do any of you, when eating, go from salty to sweet and, then back to salty, which, of course leads back to sweet?

Many are the times when I have seen people go the dessert table and get something sweet, then head back to the main table, looking for a fried chicken wing.

I am such a creature of habits; particularly when it comes to eating. My eating habits are not all that noteworthy and I won’t bore you with them except to say that my meals consists of a pendulum, a back and forth, of eating something salty followed by eating something sweet. After the sweet, then I have to have something salty, which of course leads to the necessity of another sweet.

It’s not unusual for me to have a sandwich, along with potato chips and a dill pickle. Salty. Lunch is not finished until I get that piece of cake or ice cream sandwich. Then, before I am finished I need a saltine cracker and some peanut butter. Finally, my taste buds scream for one more cookie and then it’s over until the next salty and sweet dance.

Well, let me tell you about my late Mitchell County friend whose eating habit takes the cake.

One night a group of us had gathered for a dinner party and there were all sorts of great vegetable dishes. There was creamed, sweet corn and macaroni and cheese. The hostess had cooked a big bowl of ladyfinger peas. I think the meat entrée was roast pork and there were biscuits and other dishes.

We ate and laughed and ate some more until the ladies began to clear the table for the dessert, which was a multi-layered chocolate cake. There must have been 10 or 11 layers of cake and the icing was homemade and fudgy. It was a wonderful cake and everyone wanted a big piece.

As we were beginning to enjoy the cake my friend asks, “Where are the peas?”

“They’ve been put away,” the hostess replied.

“Go get them,” my friend insisted. Everyone was perplexed because the cake was delicious. The hostess, however, went and got the peas.

Then my friend took the spoon in the peas and dipped a huge spoonful of peas and pea juice and lathered it all over his chocolate cake. It was only then that he enjoyed his chocolate cake; pea juice and all!

Now if that doesn’t take the cake, I don’t know what does.