Hi everyone—sorry for the delay. I’ve been immersed in my job (timeshare scam), moving out of my apartment (kicked out), making new friends ($4 margarita happy hour) and have been just too busy (Cinemax porn-a-thon) to sit at my computer. As several people have expressed curiosity (feigned interest), I thought I’d expand (self-indulgent bragging) on the Benjamin Bratt incident to which I alluded (name-dropped) earlier.
For the past forty years, my family has celebrated all birthdays and holidays with rum cakes from the famed Dianda’s bakery in San Francisco. Never in all my travels, having compulsively sampled the desserts wherever I’ve gone in Christendom and Heathenesse, have I found the superior to Dianda’s rum cake. It’s a divine marriage of subtle booziness and perfectly-pitched sweetness, with thick egg-yolk custard, moist cake, and lightly-flavored whipped cream. A necessary note on the booze factor: most bakeries, even those flagships in New York’s Little Italy, by which America judges Italian dessert, oversaturate their cake with alcohol (petty crime) then fail to cook out the excess alcohol (felony). Their cakes sag with the weight of the superfluous and unwelcome liquid (public scandal), and closely resemble sponges used to mop up bar spills (national disgrace). Dianda’s, on the other hand, measures just enough alcohol that the cake is left after cooking with a delightful moistness, a subtle but unmistakeable rum flavor, and, perhaps most maddening of all, an aroma promising two sins in one sitting: a flirtation with the phantom liquor and a surrendering to sweetfats.
Back to the story. So Dianda’s offers samples of this rum cake in a cup: one can get one’s “fix” in a small slice of the cake in a plastic cup which they sell for $2.50. Whenever I’m in the Mission, and you can be sure that whenever possible I streamline my chores to assure that I’ll be within a 10-block radius of the place, I stop in and leave grinning. I also feature it in my city tours to friends who visit me from out of town. The TransAmerica building’s ho-hum and the Golden Gate Bridge is available on a postcard, but Dianda’s must be experienced in the flesh! Such was the case recently with my good friend from college, Araminta. My sister and I were entertaining her in town and our requisite pilgrimage to the Bakery fell during rush hour: the small sweetshop was a-thrill with anxious addicts clamoring for the shopgirls’ attention. The three of us took our cups and huddled in the corner. A tall, svelte man in ski-bum fleece (which, casual though it was, showed off his broad shoulders nicely) swung into the shop and halted at the frenzy he had entered. My sister elbowed me in the ribs and whispered “Benjamin Bratt” and I recognized the stranger as the sometimes-dazzling Hollywood star. He turned to us and asked, “Are you ladies in line?” and I, the only one at home chatting with celebrities, responded, “No, we have our cups, see?” holding mine up like a prize. He grinned, revealing the handsomeness his fans extol, and replied, “Well, then you ladies will just have to move on back…” and reached out his hands (which were at the end of a wingspan like an eagle’s) to gently nudge the three of us girls towards the back counter. Now, any other guy would have gotten a sock in the nose for touching me uninvited, but as this one was rich and famous, I knew he must be a good person and so I trusted him. We giggled like schoolgirls and stood in the crowded bakery, though our cups were now defunct, watching as he made his way to the counter and placed his order with the harried salesgirl. I started when I heard him request a cream puff cluster: cream puffs were well and good (indeed, Dianda’s ‘ cream puffs are, like their rum cake, far superior to those of other bakeries), but rum cake they are not. Could Benjamin Bratt not know this? He is a native San Franciscan and Mission district resident; could he possibly be so naïve? Doesn’t he hire people to find these things out for him? I wanted to cry out, to right his wrong, to save him from his bad choice—well, not a bad choice exactly, but far from the best choice, and what if there should be an earthquake, or a terrorist attack, or he should walk outside and get hit by a bus? He would have missed his chance to experience the highest edible bliss. I bit my cowardly lip and winced as I saw him stride out of the bakery, stuffing his ignorant face with the sticky puff pastry, custard dripping down his chin. Araminta, Maya and I had to assuage our star-struck jitters with a trip down the street to the renowned Foxy Lady boutique and a spree on fishnet bodystockings. Er, actually, Araminta spreed on fishnets, and Maya and I just pretended we had innocently wandered in while looking for a quiet place to pray.
Two days later, Araminta and I decided she needed another rum cup before she left San Francisco for good and no such thrill was available to her any longer, and returned to Dianda’s. It was much quieter that day and we once again stood in the corner devouring our bliss, when who should walk in but Mr. Bratt, again, this time with some petite surly looking woman. He looked at me, I looked at him, and he looked away again. I wasn’t about to admit I recognized him if he was going to pretend he didn’t instantly recognize me, so I turned up my nose and focused on my cake, noticing only peripherally and without straining to hear that he spoke to his lady friend in Spanish, and ordered for her in English (some lackluster cherry Danish). Then I heard him say more loudly, “Weren’t you in here the other day?” and looked over to see him regarding me quizzically.
“Indeed I was.”
“That’s right, you’re the rum cup girl.”
“Yes, and you’re still eating cream puffs? What’s wrong with you?”
(head hanging guiltily) “I guess I’m just an addict.”
“You should get both. Two addictions are better than one,” (what cheek!)
He leaned closer. “Well,…I’m already a sex addict….”
He then turned to his scowling lady friend, answered her Spanishly-asked question in Spanish, and with a last backward glance at me and my oblivious friend, took her elbow and ushered her out of the bakery.
I found out on the news months later that the pouty Latina was in fact ex 1980’s supermodel Talisa Soto, who had been affianced to him and pregnant with his child at the time of the encounter.
So that’s my brush with the Bratt. Please place inquiries concerning directions to Dianda’s bakery and hours of operation in the comment box. Cheers!p.s. I’ve posted some of my old essays below. Cockroach Shock and Awe Parts 1 and 2 are posted, and hopefully more will come soon. Bon Appetite!