Ever notice how we talk about food in terms of morality? We see foods called “sinful”, guilty pleasures, or like the pita chips at Trader Joe’s, “guilt-free”. Foods labeled this way are usually carbohydrates, sugars, and fats – all foods we need to survive. Foods that are labeled as sinful or those that you should feel guilty eating fall into the “bad” foods category. Vegetables and lean proteins fall into the “good” foods category. When we label foods “good” and “bad” we set ourselves up to calling ourselves good and bad people.
The connection between food and moral language goes way back. Christianity plays a big part in this. People that were able to resist gluttony, to starve themselves, and fast were viewed as more pious, better people. Those who were fat were gluttonous and represented a lack of self-control. Ideas about fatness in the United States underwent large changes from the late 1800s to early 1920s. At this time in the U.S. the economy shifted from an agricultural to an industrial economy. Before this time, fatness was a status symbol. Those with money were able to both not work and not engage in strenuous physical labor but they were also able to afford food. When middle and lower-class men began to work at factories and the women stayed home, families of different class statuses were able to afford food and leisure time. Thinness then came to be a symbol of class and morality as those with money were able to resist the carnal urges and base desires now granted to the poor.
Not much has changed, fat people are still seen as lazy, unhealthy, bad people and thin people are viewed as in control and healthy – because of the types of food they supposedly eat. The “clean eating” movement lines up nicely with the theme of food and moral language. Certain foods are called clean meaning that other foods are dirty.
It is so ingrained in our culture to discuss food as bad, good, clean, sinful, etc. But once you start noticing it and how it’s used, you begin to realize that describing foods this way sets us up to live a life of yo-yo dieting, eating disorders, orthorexia, and food obsession. We are not good our bad people based upon what we put in our mouths and everyone has the right to eat what they choose without being seen as a good or bad person.
The cake I am featuring in this post is called La Reina Nobile – The Noble Queen. This cake is a beauty that reminds you of how amazing sugar is in what it can do and how it can taste. But instead of labeling this cake sinful or bad for you, I view it as a pretty amazing creation that brings me joy when I eat it.This recipe comes from an article in the LA times from 1987. My mom discovered it at the time and it’s been a family favorite since. We usually serve it without a frosting but a dollop of whipped cream and berries. But I decided to go crazy and frost it with a fluffy 7 minute frosting. Ahhhhh this cake is so good. You should make it.
La Reina Nobile
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
7 Minute Frosting
- 6 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the cake
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper and butter.
- In a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment whip egg yolks until foamy. Slowly add 3/4 cups of the sugar and continue beating till the eggs and sugar are light and fluffy for about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add orange juice and keep mixing.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Sift 3 times. Add to egg yolk mixture.
- In a clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat egg whites till foamy and slowly add sugar and keep whisking till stiff peaks form. Fold into egg and flour mixture. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 30 minutes.
For the lemon curd
- In a saucepan combine egg yolks, sugar, and lemon juice. Whisk till combined. Put over low heat and whisk constantly until mixture reached 168 degrees F. Remove from heat and add butter and lemon zest and whisk tell melted and combined.
For the 7 minute frosting
- In a clean bowl of a stand mixer combined sugar and egg whites. Place over a saucepan filled with 1 to 2 inches of simmering water. Whisk egg whites and sugar constantly until mixture reaches X degrees F. Remove and place in stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add vanilla. Whip egg whites for about 10 minutes until very light and fluffy.
- Cut both cake layers in half so you have 4 cake rounds. Place lemon curd between each layer. Frost immediately with 7-minute frosting.