Recently I stumbled across the work of the German existential philosopher, Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976), who explored the subject of being – that is, our way of being in the world – our human ability to confront issues such as our personhood and mortality; and the paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself.
I’ve never studied philosophy. But I do find the paradox of living in relationship with other humans while being ultimately alone with oneself, immensely interesting and relevant. And complicated.
And then, in the way that these things often work, I was driving along in my car when I tuned in to the CBC, and caught part of an interview with British writer, Margaret Drabble (make that Dame Margaret Drabble). She was in the middle of a sentence when I tuned in – and the first thing I heard her say was “… a way of being in the world.”
I had a spate of reading Margaret Drabble a few years back, but I’d never heard her interviewed. I was riveted. I didn’t want her to stop talking – she was so interesting, so charming and so brilliant that I was spell-bound. Even when I stopped the car, I kept listening. Later I went back and found the interview on-line and listened to the whole thing. If you’re so inclined to hear a really worthwhile, intelligent, articulate interview you can hear it here.
I’m not about to start studying philosophy. My entire education in philosophy comes from having read the bestselling novel, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder. And quite honestly, that was enough philosophy for me. But I am prepared to think about a way of being in the world – and about the paradox of living with others while ultimately being alone with myself.
And in the meantime, amongst the other things I do, I’ll keep cooking. This Green Tea Cake is probably about the perfect antidote to over-thinking life (aka – philosophy). First of all – it’s beautiful. Secondly, it’s elegant. And it’s moist and delicious. And finally – it calls for Matcha powder, otherwise known as green tea powder, an incredibly concentrated source of antioxidants – notoriously fantastic for the brain – a perfect accompaniment to trying to sort out how to live with in relationship with others while ultimately being alone with oneself.
You can find green tea powder at good tea shops and natural/health food stores.
Green Tea Cake (Philosophers’ Cake)
This recipe comes from A Taste of Wintergreen, page 109
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons green tea powder also known as Matcha powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup natural yoghurt (Greek style, full-fat yoghurt)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1¼ cups icing sugar
2 teaspoons Matcha powder
2 tablespoons butter, softened
⅓ cup cream cheese, softened
Preheat oven to 350º F. Generously butter two 9-inch cake pans.
Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, and green tea powder. In a separate large bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, and eggs for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the yoghurt, stirring only to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and the cakes are lightly browned. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
To make the icing, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, then add the icing sugar and match powder. Continue to beat until the frosting is smooth.
Spread a thin layer of frosting over one of the cakes and sandwich the two cakes together. Spread the remaining frosting over the top cake and dust gently with an extra tablespoon or so of icing sugar.