Tuesday, November 15, 2016

My Life as a Torte*

*Inspired by Nora Ephron’s
MY Life as a Meatloaf
Re-reading Nora Ephron is a treat, no matter how many times I’ve read her before. She didn’t blog, per se, but she is called “the original Blogger” by some.
Turns out that a friend who opened a restaurant named a meatloaf dish after her. It bore no resemblance to any meatloaf she had made or eaten before, but it was fantalicious, and people complemented her on this gourmet version of a down-home lowly staple.
Then the chef changed, the dish changed, was moved to Tuesday nights only, and eventually disappeared from the menu. Ephron saw an analogy to her life, and life in general. You have your day, your heyday, your recognition, the fade out, and then you’re gone.
Four years after her death, Ephron still lives, and some meatloaf recipes carry her name and are still googled daily. But what didn’t quite apply to her life, turns out, does apply to mine.
I, too, had a dish named after me.
Long ago I managed the storefront of a gourmet pastry shop. The owner-chef was a genius, and while she insisted on never making a down-home cookie (no chocolate-chip) and never calling a cake a cake (she only made tortes, please!)  the cakes, ahmm, tortes, were as incredible tasting as they were gorgeous. Tasteful in and out.
She made some classics, but also came up with original concoctions. One of those she named the Mirka Torte.
It was not my favorite, but it was up there. Layers of Cake (torte!) speckled with shavings of dark chocolate and orange rind hugged an orange sabayon cream, a sort of fluffy custard, and a thin strip of cark chocolate ran in between. It was light, beautiful, and as it turned out, quite popular.

When I married she made our wedding cake, and of course it was The Mirka Torte. When my step-mother asked her why she named this composition after me, the answer was that it is both a simple and straight-forward, as well as a subtle and complicated composition. Just like its namesake.

“You really know Mirka well,” my step-mother said.

Two years after its debut, and long after we had worked together, I ran into this cake on a dessert menu at a fancy restaurant. It was still named Mirka Torte. No one knew why, but that was just fine.

And then it was gone. Like all ephemeral things, it had its day, and then it slipped into the night.

Which is as it should be, to make room for others.

But for a moment there I had a whiff of the Nora Ephron thing. It was nice.


  1. What a beautiful post Mirka and how I wished I had been privy to a taste of the meatloaf for dinner and the Mirka torte (not cake)for dessert. I had my hey day while a hospice nurse. Started the whole program, helped others in Illinois start theirs. lots of newspaper write-ups, conferences, public speaking. Then after 11 years I moved on and so did the community. Twenty years later I'm just the nutcase living in a grain bin house, milking a cow and pounding out poetry and short stories in between farm chores. We are, all of us, replaceable. Except for Nora of course.

  2. Food fame is fleeting but how fun to have a cake (torte) named after you!

  3. How wonderful!! Having a torte named after you is awesome. And the fact that it was delicious is even better. (I started to say 'is icing on the cake.' lol) Your wedding cake looks like a work of art! And you were a beautiful bride.

  4. That cake--I mean Mirka Torte--looks yummy. The fact that it was used as your wedding cake is a very special, personal touch. I'm glad you had your Nora moment.

  5. Great post! How wonderful & elegant to have a torte named after you. 🍰

  6. How very cool, Mirka! You should post the recipe online or something!

    1. The recipe was proprietary, like all my boss's recipes, and in no way simple to execute. It belongs to the annals of history now...

  7. How sweet. No pun intended since yours is a tort. ;)

  8. Oh wow, to have a cake (torte) named after you ~ I like the sound of it: orange and chocolate, simple and straightforward then subtle and complicated!