‘It’s a what?’ I asked, staring in bemusement at the tub of goo being pressed into my hands, along with a photocopied sheet of instruction.
‘A Herman!’ she replied. ‘It’s a German friendship cake. Follow the instructions and then pass it on.’
Ah. I thought. It’s like a chain letter, only one you can eat. A chain letter with no horrible consequences, apart from... I looked again at the mixture. What exactly was in this, again?
The instructions stated that he is a sourdough cake, and that you can't put him in the fridge or he'll die. If he stops bubbling, then he is dead.
I frowned. Herman’s immediate future didn’t look good. Still, with the greatest will in the world, I took him home, announced him as the new house guest and made him comfortable.
‘Here you go, Herman’, I said, popping him into his new bowl, aware that I was already making a fatal error.
You see, I’m not very good when objects are anthropomorphised. I get horribly sentimental and then refuse to part with them. And now, not only did I have to keep Herman alive, but at the end of his sojourn with me I was expected to eat him.
And so began a peculiar ten days of Herman related activity and enquiries after his health. Was he still alive? Just about. We’ll keep quiet about the day I forgot him. Has he been stirred? Yes, either very early in the morning as the cats clamoured to be fed, or very late at night (with the cats still clamouring. My cats default position is to clamour as soon as anyone steps foot in the kitchen. Pavlov would have saved himself an awful lot of time if he’d just shared his home with a cat.)
But Herman was a fairly easy addition to the household, I have to admit. He didn’t require any scales, for one thing. None of this two confuddled ounces and sixty confusing milligrams nonsense. Instead everything was a ‘cup’ of plain flour, a ‘cup’ of sugar. Marvellous. I was beginning to think that this Herman may yet live to be eaten another day.
Not only that, but you can easily make up a song about Herman, set to the tune of Madness’ Driving In My Car:
Herman’s hiding in his bowl / It's not quite a casserole.
On Herman’s Day of Reckoning, I felt a bit sad. Poor Herman, I thought, giving him a final stir. And then I tasted him (just as the cats default is to clamour, mine is to taste-test ALL cake mixture). Mmm, I thought. There was no denying it. My Herman tasted damn fine. And that was all the impetuous I needed to shove my weird cake pet into the oven.
|Herman Junior, photo from the lovely Kerry Lucy|
I am now addicted to Hermans and volunteered to take the grandson of my original Herman home with me. I'm not quite sure where this will end, blogger buddies. I have the feeling Herman may always be found bubbling away under a tea-towel in my kitchen.
|Bwhahahahaha! Herman Lives!|
Instructions for Herman the German Friendship Cake
My Herman was soya-free - substitute olive oil for vegetable oil, and use apricots instead of raisins. Yum!