Food is so much more than food. It’s connection, culture, communication, nurturing, love. It connects us to our past, present and future, and forges ties with families and friends, even strangers sometimes. It can wrap us up in a blanket of pleasant memories. We can recall a certain smell and smile.

My birthday was yesterday, so I’m feeling nostalgic. I made this ceramic cupcake when I was little, and have carried it with me through many moves and different cities. Somehow, it’s a constant in a sea of change. Like real comfort food, it makes me feel good in a cozy kind of way, like I’m taken care of and understood. The fact that what I wanted to make out of clay and with my hands was a cupcake…well,  It serves as a reminder that I was nourished in these ways, and that I have stayed true to one of my childhood passions (always eating, it was destined that I would somehow be working around food).

To me, these little cakes also represent where I came from, and community, and friendship. I had cupcakes at many a birthday celebration as a kid, taking time to lick the frosting and then bite into the soft, fluffy cake beneath. They were the ultimate treat, and my mom took time and pleasure in making them to share with my classmates on several elementary school birthdays. They evoke innocence and a sweet homemade indulgence, package-sized and just the right amount. So, I made a cupcake out of clay because yes, I loved cupcakes, but they also symbolized intangible feelings of happiness and security. Which is why if you asked me if eating a cupcake is good for you…I might say, every once in a while, it is.

Photo by Matthew Weiss of Soul and Structure

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