I could argue that nothing is sweeter than a sleeping cat curled up into a fuzzy ball within the golden frame of an afternoon’s sunbeam. But because I’m trying to turn the corner towards a better way of living by cutting down on my intake of sugar, you can bet that anything and everything sweet has been on my mind nonstop lately. With this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge asking to define sweet, I’m afraid baked goods have won over feline for my post this time. Sorry, kitty.
I don’t remember any other time in my life before the invention of smartphones when I paused to take pictures of what I ate. But during a recent trip, impressed with all the sugary discoveries I was making, I took the risk of feeling a bit foolish in public to snap photos left and right.
In 2017 I had the opportunity to go to the United States Theatre Technology Conference in St. Louis, Missouri. I was thankful for the long flight that got me there. It gave me a chance to sit back and do nothing but be transported through the atmosphere while sipping ginger ale from a small plastic cup. Leading up to the trip, I’d found myself in limbo without a place I could call home. I was exhausted both mentally and physically. I was desperately in need of direction and inspiration.
The trip would have its inspiring moments, from the keynote address by Ken Page (best known for his voice work as “Oogie Boogie” in Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”) to being a witness to Costume Designer icon Liz Covey receiving the Costume Design & Technology Distinguished Achievement Award. But along with that lingering search for direction and purpose weighing heavily on my heart and mind, I was also in travel mode, which makes me braver to explore than this introvert feels on an average day.
Bunked down at a hotel within walking distance from the convention center, one Starbucks had the task of serving the thousands of weary travelers from across the country attending exhausting all day classes and seminars. In the early morning, the line snaked up and down ramps and curled around tables filling every inch of the coffee shop. Needing that caffeine boost and short on time, I set off to explore other options.
Snow had fallen during the night, enough to dust the rooftops and ice the sidewalks. Shuffling west a couple of city blocks through the cold led me to Park Avenue Coffee. It was here that I was introduced to a treat with a dense crust called a St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake. The base recipe is a mixture of cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. From there, the variations are endless.
Brighter skies and warmer days led me to the door of a place called “Sauce on the Side“–more than once–where calzones as big as my head made my eyes grow large and my waistline inevitably larger. I should add, that for desert options, the “Nutella Banana” on their menu is Nutella and Mascarpone with bananas and powdered sugar. They rival in size to their savory calzone counterparts.
Boarding my return flight, I was heavier than I began, but lighter at heart and a different person. Every trip I take changes me for the better. I learn from others, I learn more about myself, and I’m constantly amazed by what the minds of men and women can create. It can be as grand as an architectural wonder like The Gateway Arch, but sometimes, it’s also the hold-in-your-hand creations that are just plain sweet.