Sunday 28 September 2008

Honey Cake Honesty: A Rosh Hashanah Reflection

Overheard at the butcher the other day.
"I really want to organise a mother and baby morning that has a bit more substance to it. Some learning or something more interesting than just baby talk.'
'That sounds great. I'd love to come. Did you have any ideas in mind.'
'I was thinking about swapping recipes. I need a really good honey cake recipe."
I have never made a honey cake. I don't bake my own challah. 
My children don't eat home-made cookies. And I have never served strawberries hand dipped in chocolate.
And I am proud.
The race to prove one's domesticity is endemic in Golders Green and Hendon. Highly educated housewifes who have abandoned their career aspirations are channelling those energies into producing festive treats that come to define their role within the family. I argue that we must support local businesses such as kosher bakeries 
if we want a sustainable community. I am also not convinced that it is cheaper to make one's own honeycake. Aside from the costs of eggs, honey, flour, electricity and water to clean up, there is the cost of a woman's time - a figure that many women don't value and never bother to calculate. In the run-up to Rosh Hashanah, we are exhorted to use our time to prepare spiritually for a new year of challenges. How did a woman's spiritual preparation get hijacked and transformed into baking the tastiest honey cake in town?