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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

In Case of Car Wrecks or Other Accidents With Cocoa

This cooking column is brought to you by the friendly folks at OVIR: My plight (and let's be frank, my generous pocket) touched their souls and they decided to extend my visa after all. A wondrous thing known as Round Two is upon us and I have mouths to feed. Dozens of them. All zipping over from London today.


And speaking of dozens, the continuing dearth (or dare I say death) of imported eggs in this city had me in an even greater tizzy than the OVIR palaver.


Just what does one do? Ask all my colleagues to pop a dozen eggs in their hand luggage at Heathrow? Buy a few chickens and take up the business myself?


Or do what I did -- disgrace myself at a supermarket by scuffling with another customer over the last three dozen eggs.


Yes, the Diplomat Gastronom Egg Incident. Any witnesses to this sordid event are kindly asked to refrain from calling the paper: My mother has already been informed so there is no one else to share the shame.


But share it with you I will -- it's not often you get to witness a full shopping-cart charge by the two customers determined to pluck the last eggs from the store. We went at it hammer and tongs and the tussle was only interrupted by the store detective who gave my opponent a 10-second standing count for eye gouging. Being an honest fighter, but a desperate caterer, I naturally took the momentary distraction to rip the box out of her hands and sprint to the cashier.


And holding my hard won booty aloft, my bodyguards and I made for the bullet-proof armored vehicle and sped injudiciously down numerous side streets all the way back to the kitchen.


Savoring the taste of victory, savories were the last thing on my mind. Cakes! Sticky buns, these eggs were to be put to good use. Ever been in a crowded hotel room with a hungry horde all howling and snarling for cake? 'Twas last week's predicament and I was determined that Round Two of the elections would be awash with cake.


Apple tarts, lemon tea cakes, vanilla pear cakes. The only thing missing was the chocolate fudge slice. I placed the eggs on the counter, reached for the flour and sugar and then in a reckless leap, pulled the cocoa down from the top shelf.


And it came down, all over me.


A small neurotic part of me whispered: "Here's your revenge for stealing that customer's eggs." And a large neurotic part of me screeched: "No cocoa, argh! How am I going to make the chocolate fudge now?"


Be reassured voters, I found some more, but that's another sorry tale. So to finish I offer you the very vanilla pear cake many of you will be scoffing today. And a little salutary tale about chocolate.


When I was younger and more trusting I took a holiday with a young gentleman to New Zealand, a driving holiday around the mountain passes of the South Island. Drive we did, and my beau drove very fast. Until the moment came when, with ridiculous ease, he drove us over a cliff. The car flipped and started to spin. It was at this stage that I realized all my life was about to flash before my eyes -- I was going to die. I had just one thought: Oh look, the lid of the cocoa has come off and it is making a spectacular mess of the car.





Vanilla Pear Cake


125 grams butter, softened


1 1/2 cups sugar


2 eggs


2 cups plain flour


1 teaspoon vanilla


1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda


1 teaspoon cinnamon


3 large pears, diced





Preheat oven to 180 Celsius.


Beat together the butter and the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly. Add the flour, vanilla and bicarbonate of soda and stir gently together. (Add the cinnamon at this point if desired.) Mix in the diced pears and pour the mixture into a greased cake tin. Level off the top as best you can.


Cook for about 40 minutes. The cake is done if a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.


Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes. Turn out, cool thoroughly and serve with a dusting of icing sugar.