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Maine to Mexico: A funeral procession, a pick-up, a pink pinata, and pastel de chocolate

By       Message Jan Baumgartner     Permalink
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I have a friend who lives just one block up. He is my pastel de chocolate friend. He tells me I use "too many words, I think too much," and implies that I have surpassed my word count. He insists that I over-analyze everything, beleaguer the process and as he recently said, "just think if you got frequent flyer miles for the long journeys you take." He may be right. So instead of talking, we eat cake.

My first day here, my landlord shared a secret; the best chocolate cake in town is sold twice a week at the tienda just two doors up from my apartment. I don't believe her. The tienda is small and stocked with the very basics; water, sodas, bar soap, matches, a few avocados, sugar, toilet paper. But chocolate cake? "Yeah, right," my friend says, "the best cake in town? Who makes it, Sara Lee?"

It arrives at the tienda during evening hours, under the cover of darkened skies. Sometimes it is tardy and those of us with sweet teeth can be found pacing nearby like junkies in need of a fix. My friend picks up the stash. He is my connection, our dirty little secret, and he scores the goods and delivers directly to my front door. In the shadow of night, he arrives with a small paper plate swelling with the inflated creamy richness of mile high chocolate cake. It is not brown. It is black. It is as black as a cat.

He stands beneath the golden light of the street lantern holding the pastel, a fragile white plastic fork standing upright in the middle of the frosting battleground, a premature surrender. "Hellohh, luvah," I purr to the object of my affection, not the man bearing my desire. The second night of the score, he looks both worried and relieved. "It was the last piece," he whispers, holding the melt-in-your-mouth slab before me. He looks as though he's just secured the last dose of Cipro during a smallpox outbreak. We are grateful for small things; at least those draped in icing.

There is no need to talk. But somehow I manage, "you know this might be even better with just a pinch of chipotle powder," but I realize I'm toying with perfection not to mention his nerves. He ignores me as he fills his mouth with frosting and closes his eyes. This moist, black pastel needs no words. Other than an occasional moan, whimper or sigh, no noun, verb, dangling participle or chad can do it justice. Some things in life cannot be defined, only experienced.

Our friendship is made of something that can be poured into a sheet pan. Our foundation is batter. Truth be told, if this pastel de chocolate ever ceased to be delivered, I'm not sure what we'd miss more, each other or the chocolate cake. I don't ponder too long on the thought, however, as I have enough mind trip frequent flyer miles to circumnavigate the globe many times over and return just in time for the weekly delivery of the sinful pastel.
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Besides, it is Friday ~ and there is chocolate in the air.
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A native Californian, Jan Baumgartner is a writer and book editor. After many years along the coast of Maine, she now lives full time in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She's recently finished editing two books; one, a memoir for a non-profit in (more...)

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