I recently hosted my annual Caker Christmas potluck party. For the past 19 years, I've asked my Italian friends and in-laws to make Anglo Saxon dishes like casseroles and things smothered with Cool Whip. As you can imagine, it’s a real rollercoaster of tastes.
Here are some of the highs – and lows – of Caker Christmas 2017. Some of the photos aren’t the best quality. That’s because you should always serve caker food in low lighting. It's the only way Italians will eat it.
Shrimp Tree. I commissioned my Italian husband to make this. It caused quite the sensation. I found it elegant. Others found the idea of shrimp impaled on a kale-covered Styrofoam cone a little disturbing. To each his own, I guess.
Bugles. When I was a kid, I used to put bugles on my fingertips and pretend I was a glamourous lady. I suppose that comes as a surprise to no one.
Clam Dip. This had cream cheese, catsup and Worcestershire sauce. It was the same colour as Silly Putty.
Chicken Casserole. This had cream of mushroom soup, cream of chicken soup, two chicken bouillon cubes and ¾ tsp of salt. Needless to say, the crushed Ruffles on top helped round things off.
Hometown Casserole. This had ground beef, corn and a layer of Stove Top Stuffing. If my hometown was covered in Stove Top Stuffing, I would’ve never moved away.
Johnny Marzetti Casserole. I made this because I thought the Italians might know Johnny. But no one did. This had ground beef, corn, cheese, macaroni, Sloppy Joe mix and an entire can of tomato paste. Johnny was obviously a man who lived large.
Canadian Casserole. I’m not sure what made this “Canadian.” The green pepper? The tuna? The rice? The two cans of cream of mushroom soup? Who cares? It's got potato chips.
Christmas Salad. This is a terrible picture and doesn’t do it justice. This salad had layers of lettuce, water chestnuts, frozen peas and not one, but two, cups of mayernaise. It won the best-tasting Caker dish of the night, a title that, for Italians, straddles a fine line between pride and shame.
Banana Meatloaf. Made by yours truly, this meatloaf consisted of ground beef and 1 ½ cups of mashed bananas. Why bananas? Beats me. It was voted worst dish of the night. As to how it tasted, imagine a meatloaf and banana loaf mating and then producing a turd-like antichrist intent on destroying the world.
Rice Krispies Presents. You can’t go wrong with Rice Krispies Squares. Especially when they’re tied with licorice ribbons.
Santa Cut-Up Cake. I made this from a recipe in my Cut-Up Cake Party book. He doesn’t look overly impressed. Must be an Italian Santa.
Caker Torrone. What made this torrone “caker,” you ask? Why, marshmallow fluff of course. Some fluff got in my hair and I couldn't lift my head off the pillow the next morning.
Angel Food Dessert. These leftovers don’t look too appetizing, but this cake was pretty tasty. It was an angel food cake with Cool Whip and Crispy Crunch. I think. By that point, everything was a blur of soft white. Pro tip from a guest: Don't take an Uber pool when you're carrying a cake iced with Cool Whip.
Ice Cream Sandwich Layer Cake. This won best-tasting dessert of the night. It had ice cream, Skor bits and chocolate wafers. Competitive edge: maraschino cherries. With stems.
Here’s what's left of poor Santa. He looks like the victim in a horror movie called “The Tupperware Massacre.”
Well, another Caker Christmas may have come and gone, but it always repeats in the morning. As the Italians say, “Bwona Natalie, everyone!”