from the Piece of Cake Mysteries
by Jacklyn Brady
It's November and everyone at Zydeco Cakes is gearing up for Thanksgiving. We'll all be heading out to do things with friends and family for the holiday, but when we come back to New Orleans, it's going to be all hands on deck to get ready for the Belle Lune Ball in January.
The Belle Lune Ball is held every year at the historic Monte Cristo Hotel in New Orleans, sponsored by the Crescent City Vintage Clothing Society. You may have read about the stroke of luck that landed us the contract in Rebel Without a Cake. If so, you know that we're in way over our heads for this job. Okay, so yes, I admitted that aloud. Just don't tell anyone else that I said it.
We're not only making and decorating some extreme cakes in the shape of vintage dresses (yes, cakes, as in plural. Five to be exact!) but we're catering the entire dinner as well. I've been working round the clock coming up with a menu that will please the members of the society who pay a hefty price to attend the ball and that honors the spirit of the event.
I'll admit, doing all that research in such a short amount of time, on top of menu planning and cake designing has been daunting. Before I took the job, I knew next-to-nothing about vintage anything, so I've had to learn a lot.
Did you know, for instance, that the term "Vintage" refers to anything between 20 and 100 years before the current date? Older than 100 years, and the thing drops into "Antique" territory. Evangeline Delahunt and the other members of the Vintage Clothing Society decided to focus on the 1930s for this year's ball, which was a fascinating time in history.
Pluto was discovered in the 1930s and the Empire State Building was completed. Air conditioning was invented (hooray!) and Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic. Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and an attempt was made on FDR's life. Alcatraz was opened as a federal prison and Bonnie and Clyde were killed by the police.
The cheeseburger was invented in 1934 and Alcoholics Anonymous was founded. The board game Monopoly was introduced for the first time and Penguin introduced the first paperback book. The
Social Security system was initiated the Golden Gate bridge was opened. The first Volkswagen Beetle was produced and World War II began.
The March of Dimes was founded and Superman made his first appearance in a comic book. In spite of the teetering economy, or maybe because of it, women copied the styles of glamorous Hollywood starlets such as Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, and Jean Harlow. Bright lipstick, eye shadow, and artificial eyelashes were the rage. It was a busy time!
Swing and Jazz dominated the music scene and musicals were popular at the movies, and classics like Frankenstein, All Quiet on the Western Front, Gone with the Wind, and It Happened one Night (one of my all-time favorites) hit theaters all over the country. And let's not forget King Kong and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
I've had a great time learning more about that era and designing the cakes. I can't wait to see how they turn out. I have a feeling they're going to be amazing!
For those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving this month, have a happy holiday. Those of you who don't, have a happy day doing whatever you do on a Thursday in November!
Jacklyn Brady lives on the Gulf Coast and writes the Piece of Cake Mystery series which is set in New Orleans and features cake artist and trained pastry chef, Rita Lucero. The Cakes of Monte Cristo, 6th in the Piece of Cake Mystery Series, is scheduled for release Jan 5, 2016, and available now for pre-order.
photo credit: March 1933 McCalls cover via photopin (license)
photo credit: i used to try to be the golden gate bridge : golden gate bridge, san francisco (2014) via photopin (licens