January 26th, 2007 | Travels and Appearances

This is just a quick note. I have to rush to catch my train to Angouleme.

Here, at last, is a photo of the famous Maoist orange cake, being displayed by Helene Tison. Her girlfriend Ghanima made it.

the maoist orange cake

Here’s the classroom full of patient people at the University of Tours yesterday, waiting while we sorted out our Powerpoint Problems.

university of tours

Here’s Fritz the elephant, a Barnum circus elephant who died on tour in Tours. A long time ago.


Here’s a little movie of an interview I did on Wednesday in Paris. Just so you can get a sense of what it’s like here. LIght up a cigarette for the full effect.

45 Responses to “Tours”

  1. Maggie Jochild says:

    THE CAKE! Displayed with pinkies NOT extended. Alison, you have won the hearts and souls of The People.

    Is the elephant weeping?

  2. Ginjoint says:

    If I had been a circus elephant, I would’ve cried too.

  3. Ghanima says:

    Hélène, you gorgeous gal, get back home!

  4. AnnaP says:

    Picture of the elephant makes me weep.

  5. Helene says:

    In case some of you are worried, Alison fared much better than the elephant; she neither perished nor wept, made a beautiful presentation of her work, DTWOF and Fun Home, and has a whole new crowd of French admirors.

  6. Éric the menace says:

    I suspect the Maoist orange cake is not totally unrelated to the demise of Fritz the elephant…

  7. silvio soprani says:

    This means that a person in London informed us of a possible cake, which was baked by a person in Baltimore, who incited a prolongued discussion of said cake, which was finally baked by the girlfriend of a real live woman riding on a bus (or plane?) in France where Alison encountered her in person and took of a picture of the cake and posted it back to all of us.

    Truly a cake with legs! Helene, you and your cake are beautiful. (Regards to Ghanima.) The glaze looks yummy!
    [This cake refuses to confine itself to its own blog. It probably has a passport and a visa!]

  8. Christine Hahn says:

    Love the video. It’s “Alive With Pleasure!”

  9. Helene says:

    Thank you, Silvio. In fact, the cake stalked Alison all the way from Paris to Tours, on a train. It was indeed yummy, all of it.

  10. Deb says:

    Silvio, I love your rendition of the journeys of ‘THE CAKE’.
    That cake has more travel time logged than I do for last year, and that’s saying something!

    Helene, thanks for letting us know Alison did good! She IS good isn’t she?

    Alison, continue to have a great time!

  11. Ian says:

    Is that THE cake??? The infamous London Maoist Gateau d’orange??? You forgot to tell us how it tasted Alison. 😉

  12. Ghanima says:

    To the honorable moist orange cake community, this cake is the result of a new improved recipe, I replaced the oil by melted butter and reduced the quantity of sugar and it tastes wonderful.

  13. A. in Paris says:

    Any cake left? Or do I have to produce my own version? And then we can have a comparative seminar. 🙂

  14. Jana C.H. says:

    I think we ARE all going to have to bake the cake, even the capitalist running dogs among us. I’m not sure I feel up to tackling it alone, but my mother is a terrific cook and next time I visit her in Port Angeles we can give it a try. Since she’s presently suffering from gout (Yes, gout! She says she feels like she’s in a Jane Austen novel), I’ll have to do the actual cooking while she supervises.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Martha F.H.: Anyone can cook; all you have to do is follow the recipe (unless you think of something better, or you don’t have an ingredient and need to substitute, or you just feel in the mood to experiment).

  15. Sasha says:

    The Maoist cake…for some reason I’m expecting a hammer and sickle design in crimson buttercream.

  16. I must confess. I did not try the orange cake. Not even for the sake of our ongoing saga. I don’t see much point in desserts that don’t entail chocolate in some capacity. I feel very guilty about this because I know a lot of work and good intentions went into the cake. But I just can’t betray my principles willy nilly like that.

  17. Maggie Jochild says:

    Alison, confession is the first step in re-education. And guilt, of course. The will of the proletariat must come before your so-called principles. Once we get you away from the high life in France and back to Burlington where, the news said, today’s wind chill was -20 to -30 degrees, we’ll help you on your path to accepting the deepest meaning of Cake.

  18. Feminista says:

    Let them eat cake. Or Cinnabuns. I had a wonderful pecan Cinnabun,divided into 6 mini-rolls,at the O’Hare airport.
    Alison’s photo inspired me to go in search of comfort food.It was either that or hang out in the sports bar guzzling Schlitz wit’all da guys talkin”bout Da Bears.

    And all this time I thought it was a moist orange cake,not a Maoist one. “Where the broom does not go,the dust does not vanish of itself,sayeth the late Chairman.

  19. MidSouth Mouth says:

    If orange cake much be shunned and chocolate hailed,
    then try that yummy chocolate with orange in it.
    I like the kind with crystallized ginger in it

  20. Silvio Soprani says:

    Deb, I forgot one more thing…You’ve heard of “Snakes on a Plane?” Well, this is “Cake on a Train…with Helene.”
    [my deepest apologies; I could not resist one idiotic pun after such a long week!]

    And Helene, awesome purple eyeglasses!!!

  21. Ian says:

    Ok, at the risk of expanding the whole cake thang, and given that she-who-must-be-obeyed likes desserts with chocolate in it … Not that it matches those French ones she’ll be scarfing in Angouleme …

    Ian’s FairTrade (FT) Chocolate and Bailey’s Tart

    You will need:

    8″ round flan dish

  22. Ian says:

    Oh no! It cut off my recipe!!!!

  23. Jaibe says:

    I am so from another planet. I was just going to ask how you could be a mac user and use power point. Don’t you want to be like Al Gore? Get Keynote! 🙂

  24. Pam I says:

    Could you drizzle melted chocolate onto the cake top? This is another thing to try when the dissertation gets itself finished…

  25. andy says:

    Can someone take pity on me? Why Maoist?

  26. Josiah says:

    I think Maoist was a typo for “moist” at some point, and the joke just took off from there.

  27. Silvio Soprani says:

    It’s really because of the crazed Collective Unconscious operating on this blog. And the love of Words. Of course the word “MOIST” would spawn a spate of witty political literary improvisation upon the sage (and deceased) Mao.

    But Ian, do not be deterred by the Baking Censor which rudely truncated your attempted recipe–please try again to post your Chocolate Tart. Surely Alison will gaze kindly upon it, seeing as how it sports not only chocolate but also Bailey’s!

  28. Pam I says:

    Have you guys seen whats going on back at ?

  29. Pam I says:

    And how do you turn links into those nice neat orange single words?

  30. Maggie Jochild says:

    Pam, orange is the color of pure revolutionary thought. If you have it expressed it correctly, it turns orange all by itself.

    On a different note — a popular punky lesbian band here in Austin during the 1990’s had the singular name of “Moist Fist.”

  31. Silvio Soprani says:

    Maggie– Singular indeed. (At least I hope so! Two would be a challenge!)

    Pam I: THANK YOU for steering us back to the cakeblog revolutionary site (as opposed to the compulsory “official cakeblog”, although AnnaP did create it for the people with true dedication and creativity). WHAT A HOOT!

  32. Jana C.H. says:

    The entire (ongoing) Maoist Orange Cake blog needs to be collected and archived on the Official Cakeblog, for the enlightenment of future Revolutionaries. And of course eventually it will be published as a small book with orange colors.

    Chocolatist-roaders threaten the unity of the Party and must be re-educated into correct lines of thought. When should we schedule Alison’s criticism-selfcriticism session?

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Brillat Savarin: The fate of nations depends on the way they eat.

  33. Maggie Jochild says:

    (source: Wikipedia)
    Oranges originated in southeast Asia, in either India, Vietnam or southern China. They were spread by the people themselves, available to all, and were commonly used by oppressed classes to ward off scurvy.

    Chocolate, on the other hand, was created by the Mesoamerican civilization, from cacao beans, and cultivated by pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Maya and Aztec, who used it as a basic component in a variety of sauces and beverages. The cocoa beans were ground and mixed with water to produce a variety of beverages, both sweet and bitter, which were reserved for only the highest noblemen and clerics of the Mesoamerican world. It is the solid and fat combination, sweetened with sugar and other ingredients, that is made into chocolate bars and which is today commonly referred to as chocolate. Thus, it began as a food of privilege and has remained so. In addition, the production of sugar is historically linked to slavery.
    Roughly two-thirds of the entire world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa, with close to half of the total sourced from Côte d’Ivoire. Like many food industry producers, individual cocoa farmers are at the mercy of volatile world markets. When cocoa prices drop, farmers in West Africa sometimes cut costs by resorting to slave labor.

    Symbolically, orange has become a colour symbolising opposition around the world. Orange also may sometimes be symbolic of the political concept of Democratic Socialism. Orange was the rallying colour of the 2004–2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Native Americans associated the colour orange with kinship

    Chocolate intake has been linked with release of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to produce feelings of pleasure.

    So, there you have it: The People’s vitamin-rich, easily accessible fruit of opposition, or the elite sugar-dependent concoction of pleasure.

    Which side are you on?

  34. Ian says:

    Maggie, I’m irresistably reminded of the war cry of “soda’s a patriarchal plot, why d’you think they call it pop?” – one of my most favourite D2WO4 episodes.

    I’m afraid I sold out years ago to imperialist chocolate, however, us liberals in Britain can have it both ways (as we often try to) by eating Terry’s chocolate orange – orange-flavoured chocolate that is in orange-shaped segments, comes packaged in the shape of an orange and is even covered in orange coloured foil to symbolise the peeling.

  35. Deena in OR says:

    Ian…didn’t Toblerone at one time produce a similar, pleasure-inducing substance? At least, if memory serves….

  36. cybercita says:

    pam i, many thanks for the hedzup about the cakeblog thread! i returned there just now and was vastly entertained. or should i say educated?

  37. Silvio Soprani says:

    We can buy those chocolate oranges here in the USA–at least I have bought them in the Safeway at Christmas time for a stocking stuffer.

    I thank Our Maggie for her invigorating analysis of the ramifications of this Orangist struggle in which we are engaged. Comrade Jana displays an admirable determination to document the entirely worthy tangent we have embarked upon. However, in view of the meanderings of the various comments from one thread to another, I fear that we will have to assign ourselves to various work camps in order to round up all the comments and shepherd them to the aforementioned CAKEBLOG (otherwise known as “Siberia.”)

    I must confess that I am fond of frequent focused chocolate-eating. That is, I look forward to just the right morsel of chocolate with my evening cup of coffee. But I confine this activity strictly to moments after all my work is done.

    Speaking of the class distinctions of chocolate vs oranges, my mother-in-law (a most intelligent woman), was fond of telling us the story of how as a child (in the 1930s), the children would each receive one orange apiece in their Christmas stockings, and she would enjoy eating ONE SEGMENT PER DAY in the weeks after the holiday. Truly this reflects a thriftiness extinct in today’s American culture!

  38. --MC says:

    I love those chocolate oranges at Xmas time; I love eating them, I love their stickers that say “Whack and unwrap”.
    But two years ago they had a sload of unpleasant new flavors — chocolate raspberry oranges, chocolate ranch oranges — and those sold badly, and this year I couldn’t find them at all!

  39. Jen says:

    Whoa! could your friend’s eyes be any more blue?!? Gorgeous…

  40. Maggie Jochild says:

    Silvio, I too have strong memories of my mother telling us about the gift of an orange in their stockings, those children of the Depression. She didn’t receive a Christmas gift per se until she was five (and then it was a small red kerosene lantern, rather utilitarian), but the stockings would have hard candy, socks, pecans, and a single orange. Which might be the only orange they had all year. She would tell us this story as we emptied out our own stockings each year, and although we were poor, it was clear we were not THAT poor. I often cried when she told that story. Never stopped her, though.

    Re the Orange Politics lunacy: It’s a little frightening to me how easy it is to Formulate a Position and then find evidence to support it. (I mean, I fucking LIVE for chocolate, you dig?) The Christian Right, the male-dominated left, the wingnut hawks, and now the dyke socialist orangists (I include you in that number, Josiah) are all able to find ample “proof” that their emotional beliefs are the one true way.

  41. Josiah says:

    A dyke socialist orangist? Me?

    Actually, I’m quite honored. 😮

  42. AnnaP says:

    I once lived together with a man who did not like chocolate.

  43. silvio soprani says:

    That’s bad, but try being an Italian-American married to a Presbyterian White Guy who WOULDN’T EAT GARLIC! We should have had pre-marriage counseling to uncover that little foible!

  44. amalle says:

    “Cake on a Train…with Helene.

    silvio you’re a genius.

    also, best blog ever.

  45. Anonymous says:


    I am touched that you enjoyed my Dr. Seussian moment.
    But I assure you that I am not even worthy to dust off the Oxford English Dictionary of some on this blog, as regards genius. I am more like a pet raccoon, or perhaps a pair of fluffy slippers or something harmless like that.