Bisexuality & Biscuit Land
Happy Bi Visibility Day!
Today I'm going to talk a bit about Red White and Royal Blue, by Casey McQuiston, which, if you came across this blog other than because you know me personally, you probably know all about it and have your own opinions on it (and the movie, currently in production! Uma Thurman as President Claremont?!) But anyway. The overly idealistic politics and nonsensical NDAs are not why I'm talking about RWRB today. I'm talking about RWRB because it is bi visibility day and (spoiler alert?) I love Alex's journey.
Bisexuality is truly a rich and complex tapestry.
And yes, I am aware that I did roughly a million posts about Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, in which Rosaline's bisexuality is a major topic, and that my very first post was about Looking for Group, where Drew's undefined sexuality and coming to terms with his feelings for Kit is handled so very beautifully. And also a reminder that liking members of the same sex is not limited to a bisexual identity. But I really just love Alex's journey.
Specifically, the scene where Alex goes for a run because "He feels like a dog that has to be taken on walks to get his energy out. Especially when June says, 'You're like a dog that has to be taken on walks to get his energy out.'"
And on that run Alex reflects on why he thinks that he is straight. Because he grew up with open and loving family of politicians who champion LGBTQ issues, so if he was not straight he would have known, right? Because fantasizing about classmates of the same gender and not being sure if it's cuz you like them or wanna be like them is totally normal, right? If you kiss a member of your same gender and like it... well... what could that possibly mean?
As you read the book it is very obvious what is happening. Other characters see it. Alex's best friend and ex-girlfriend, Nora, has already laid it all out for Alex pretty explicitly including the absolutely priceless description of his having been "Draco Malfoy-level obsessed," but Alex... Alex doesn't get it yet.
I worry that some readers will not find this believable, because it seems insane to not know something like that about yourself. And a little because the politics in RWRB are unbelievable. And the NDAs make no sense. What I'm saying is, it's easy to find parts of this book unbelievable even beyond the whole falling in love with a prince bit, but to me... this part is so real and when Nora's all like "I touched a boob it wasn't very profound," and Alex is still struggling... I get it. When you are attracted to members of the opposite sex, you fall into the default. So why would you question it when it's so easy to see yourself in the default, the mainstream narrative, and unconsciously explain away or justify what, if you were to poke at just a little bit, would collapse into a heaping pile of oh shit of course I'm not straight.
When Alex is on that run and it clicks that if he's thinking about all these things... they probably mean something... "Straight people, he thinks, probably don't spend this much time convincing themselves they're straight." And he thinks about his former best friend, his mentor, Han Solo, and and and... And as someone who spent a long time thinking they were straight... that moment meant something to me in a profoundly personal way, because I hadn't really thought about it until I read someone else think about it... how much I really loved my own equivalents of Liam, Shaan, Raphael Luna, and Han Solo... how my brain managed to gloss over them at the time, and how much I appreciate this book for bringing them back to me.
Of course, that's a deeply personal reason for loving this book and is by no means the best part about it for an objective recommendation and I do, wholeheartedly, recommend this book to anyone who wants something sweet and funny and idealistic and sweet.
In my opinion the best bit of Red White and Royal Blue is the Great Turkey Calamity, which leads into Henry's discussion of Bake Off and biscuit land and Mr. Wobbles trying to eat his Jaffa Cakes. So, I knew as soon as I started this blog that I was going to at some point make some homemade Jaffa Cakes to talk about this book.
And they were a complete disaster:
Cake bits raggedy, jelly too soft, chocolate too hot... just... disaster.
This recipe is a hybrid of a few I found online, and technically should make a dozen. I made six and had some leftover chocolate and jelly. Maybe if I got a lot better at it I could make twelve smaller ones but... yeah... I'm okay with it making six.
THE JELLY BIT
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 sachet (12g) gelatine
- Orange food dye
- Place the sugar, and orange juice into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat, add the food dye (a few drops to make it that good artificial orange color of snack foods), sprinkle the gelatine on top and whisk in IMMEDIATELY (it will get clumpy and gross if you let it sit for even a second.
- Pour into a pan lined with tinfoil and chill for at least 2 hours. (If you let your gelatin get a little clumpy, strain out the clumps.
THE CAKE BIT
- unsalted butter, for greasing
- 1 large egg
- 25g sugar
- 25g self-raising flour
- Whisk the egg and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until pale and fluffy, then gently fold in the flour.
- Split evenly between a dozen cupcake/muffin tin cups or six extra-large cupcake/muffin tin cups (about a spoonful per) and smooth the tops.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes, or until well risen and the top of the cake spring back when lightly pressed.
- Leave to cool in the tray for a few minutes then finish cooling on a wire rack.
THE CHOCOLATE BIT
- 90g dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chunks)
- 90g milk chocolate chips (or chunks)
- Melt in a double boiler.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before assembling.
- Use a round cookie cutter slightly smaller than the cakes to cut the jelly. (It's very important it be slightly smaller. I don't remember what season, but this was once a technical challenge on Bake Off and I distinctly remember Mary explaining that it wouldn't look right otherwise. I think mine are a little too big). Place jelly on top of cakes.
- Pick up one cake at a time (I like to hold mine on a fork or spatula) and use a spoon to pour the chocolate over the cake. Repeat.
- When slightly cooled, use a fork to drag across the criss-cross pattern, if you want to. Mine were not that successful but I gave it a shot and what's really important is they tasted good, right? RIGHT?
Also, as a shout out to the gang's fabulous night in LA, when I was last in Texas I went to In-N-Out for the first time ever and I got my burger and fries Animal Style (at June's insistence, although if I ever make it to another In-N-Out, only the burger animal style) and a strawberry shake, and took pictures for y'all:
Finally, as a shout out to the Claremont-Diaz's home state, some genuine Texas barbecue (from about an hour outside of Austin, Houston, and Dallas- see if you can guess which one is which):
Anyway, my Bloody Mary is here and I need to talk to it about this blog post. (I kid. It's evening. I'm totally making a sidecar.)
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