It's the holidays, and I'm baking around-the-clock.
It's the holidays, and I'm watching other people bake around-the-clock.
Because I just discovered The Great British Baking Show.
I know I'm late to the party, but what else is new?
The Great British Baking Show is a reality show on Netflix, and it's a baking competition from the UK. Francesca was home for Thanksgiving, and she put it on TV. I doubted I'd be interested, because the last thing I want to do is watch people bake. On the contrary - at the time, I was looking forward to watching people play football.
The holidays are a time when I park myself in front of the television and watch other people live their lives.
Plus, I'm not a big baker, though I'm a big fan of baked goods. I love when other people bake for me, namely my daughter, who was baking a chocolate cake for dessert.
Yes, I'm so glad I gave birth to her. She was worth every excruciating minute of back labor.
That said, she could bake 5,000 cakes, and we still wouldn't be even.
Anyway, she put on The Great British Baking Show, and we had a soothing backdrop of British accents, classical music, and people being excessively polite.
It's like Downton Abbey, only fattening.
The contestants on the show are home bakers, not professional chefs, ranging in age from 17 to 70. They're a diverse group, and I found myself identifying with the middle-age women, wanting to mother and/or nurse the younger bakers, and developing a crush on the most unavailable male bakers.
And more than half the bakers on the show are men, and most of them are superhot carpenters.
We're talking eye candy that can actually make candy.
Can I just say that a man who can build a bookshelf and bake a cake could be my next ex-husband?
Then I started to notice that the bakers were baking things I had never heard of - savarins, fondants, Florentines, Swiss rolls, frangipanes, Victoria sandwiches, Jaffa cakes, and jumbles.
To me, all of those are jumbles.
I don't know my ganache from my genoise.
But not only did the contestants know exactly what those things were, they knew how to bake them.
In other words, Brits are living their best life.
I started getting sucked into the show, because it was amazing to see these completely normal people baking these incredible creations. They shaped cakes into Ferris wheels, spun caramel into Gothic churches, and built ships with gingerbread pirates.
And then I started getting into the language, which is allegedly English, but Americans will need me to translate:
"Prove it" means "let the dough rise."
"I'm chuffed" means "I'm happy."
"Bang on" or "bash on" is "carry on," which means "get over yourself."
The British are excellent at getting over themselves.
They avoid "argy-bargy," which means drama.
I couldn't relate, being Italian American, as I thrive on argy-bargy.
Not only that, but this is a competition show with no cash prizes. Unlike Top Chef, where one of the contestants wins six figures, The Great British Baking Show awards the winner a cake stand.
Not even a crystal cake stand.
It looks like glass.
I wouldn't cross the street for a glass cake stand.
Not only that, but all the losing contestants clap for the winner and they actually seem to mean it.
They're so nice and British.
There was even one episode where a female contestant took out of the freezer some cake-and-ice-cream combination made by a handsome construction worker named Iain.
Or, as I call him, Mr. Lisa Scottoline.
Iain's ice cream melted, so he threw out his concoction and got eliminated from the competition without even telling the judges what had happened. In other words, he had a chance to blame someone else but didn't.
Listen, if that were me, I'd be pointing my finger, big-time. I'd be yelling that somebody took my ice cream out of the freezer, and not only do I want her off the show, I'm going to sue her blind.
In fact, even litigation isn't enough for me.
I go directly from zero to blood feud.
But not Iain.
What a guy.
I bet if we got married, we'd make it the full three years.
Lastly, all the contestants seem to have a grandmother who baked a billion amazing things, as in "Gran's favorite opera cake." But Francesca and I realized that Mother Mary didn't have any baking recipes, though she was big on ravioli, tuna fish casserole, and smoking.
But then we remembered a Joy of Cooking recipe for lemon pound cake with poppy seed, which I used to make for Francesca when she was little, so we decided that was our "Gran's favorite recipe."
Got a gun?
Anyway, we made it from scratch.
Or rather, Francesca made it from scratch.
But I watched.
And tried not to get all teary when I remembered how sweet it was to bake it for her, back when she was only 3 years old.
And in the end, we both won.
There was no cash prize or glass cake dish.
There was something much more valuable.
Love and family.
Look for Lisa and Francesca's new humor collection, "I Need a Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool," and Lisa's new Rosato & DiNunzio novel, "Exposed," and domestic thriller, "One Perfect Lie," in stores now.