Poisoned cake was a grave danger of which my parents warned me early on. As soon as I could talk in proper sentences, they told me that a neighbor might offer me a piece. Refusing any food that anyone outside the family suggested I should eat was one of the big rules of my childhood. My parents offered no explanation as to why someone might put poison in a cake and offer it to children. Their anxiety claimed my blind trust. They fed me their own fears.
The baker of poisoned cake could only be a woman. In the world of my childhood, men didn’t bake cakes. On week days, Bulgarian men went to the jobs that the communist government had assigned to them. On week-ends, they smoked Bulgarian tobacco and gathered to work on each other’s Soviet-made cars. Clouds of smoke enveloped both humans and vehicles. I often wondered who or what exactly chained-puffed on the cigarettes: the men or their cars. Cooking in general, and specifically baking, was a female task. Therefore only a woman could come up with the idea of making poisoned cake.