They are everywhere, haven’t you noticed? There are cupcakes everywhere I look all of a sudden. What does this mean I ask myself. In my youth there were fairy cakes or butterfly cakes, made with exactly the same recipe but without that dollop of gunk on the top. It is not a coincidence that these are the patisserie du jour. They are the Jordan of the gastronomic world. Their rise to ubiquity has to indicate something really important about our cultural state in 2011. Now what could that be?
The cupcake is the most suggestive of mouthfuls. It promises much and delivers little. It is, after all, a froth of everything that we know is bad for us; a temple to the power of greed, where the saliva gathers at the mere promise of what is to come -which is actually a mouthful of nothing. Lacking the honesty of a meringue, the cup cake in its many disguises is actually very predictable. It smells like the inside of a marshmallow jar in a sweetshop and feels like its going to be important. It is gone in a flash that feeling, leaving in its wake one of guilt, often temporarily assuaged by another cupcake. Greed is the crucible in which the alchemy of cupcakes is forged. Why stop at a fairy cake when an F cup is possible? Cup augmentation is the symbol of the age; Anna Nicole the tragic heroine. We live in an F cup age and our chosen icon often, as often as not, has a cherry on the top. It is a question of how far we will go to be satisfied. All boundaries down, our society promotes and idealises the extreme. My grandmother wouldn’t have put a cup cake into her mouth. The smell itself would have been alien and would have told her there was no nutrition there. We are all part of the violation of boundaries that the cupcake represents. As a society we reward the extreme with lavish attention. But not for long. It will soon run out of stream this headlong rush towards the extreme. Soon we will have to collectively face the truth.
In less that ten years that cup cake of cities, Las Vegas, will run out of water and be left suddenly, like Fatehpur Sikri, to the arms of the desert sun and sand. Every ninety minutes the people of Las Vegas consume 69 million litres of water; water that is not being replenished. It is unsustainable. And yet the fountains at Bellagio do their hourly dance, and spectacular it is. I wonder how many cupcakes are consumed every ninety minutes in Las Vegas.