In Let Me Eat Cake, Leslie F. Miller has an entertaining idea: coupling historical and contemporary/pop culture views and even some technical insights into this culinary delight with her personal reflections, reminiscences and engagement verging on obsession with the subject matter. The tone is amiable if a bit self-inflating, even where it intends to be self-deprecating. Unfortunately, the overall approach is uneven and long-winded.
Interesting factoids are scattered throughout, like a cake with baked-in trinkets, but the filler in between will put off all but the most stalwart readers long before the end … and occasionally you just might chomp down on something that might put you off, like the extended prattle about in-fighting amongst competitive bakers. Intentional or not, some of the asides about eating that which is forbidden and how that relates to body image hint at a more intriguing theme below the surface.
The whole at times too-packed-with-rich-ingredients read is almost redeemed by this:
Tell me I’m beautiful, and that’s nice of you (I don’t believe you, but it’s nice). Tell me I’m funny, and I thank you, though you state the obvious. But tell me I’m a good cook, that you love my meat loaf and my lemon layer cake, and you are loving me. Food is love.
but you might not make it to that genuinely sweet conclusion because of the overstuffed and sometimes cloying material that precedes it.