The other day on Twitter I did a couple of jokey tweets with the hashtag #vintagegirlproblems. They were to do with my head being the wrong shape for headscarves and my freeze-hold hairspray about to run out, but I did say in one that I was allergic to cupcakes. It was meant entirely as a joke (bless the one person who sent me a gluten-free cupcake recipe) because as everyone who has at least one eye knows, vintage and cupcakes seem to go hand in hand. But often controversially so!
I’ve lost count of the amount of moans I have seen online about ‘cupcakes and bunting’, that chintzy, frou-frou-y (it’s a word) side to vintage that sees pretty afternoon teas served on antique floral china, 40s-style village fetes strewn with bunting and girls in pretty tea dresses that may or may not be actually old. Gin cocktails served in teacups. You know the drill.
I like to think I’m not a fan of the concept of cupcakes and everything they represent (the popularity of my once subcultural style), hence the joke about being allergic. And actually, I do find most cupcakes pretty awful – intensely over-sweet to the point where eating one makes your teeth feel like they’re jumping back from the sugar (see also: eating Cadbury’s Creme Eggs… or maybe that’s just me). I do usually snaffle one from any such cupcake abundant event I’m at and give it to my boyfriend, who, in a gender stereotype role reversal actually likes them a lot more than me. He was nearly defeated by one the other day though, declaring it the most sickly ‘bun’ (he’s Northern) he’d ever eaten. But I won’t lie, I do like to partake in a cupcakey confection every once in a while – red velvet ones are a favourite as the cream cheese frosting somehow isn’t quite so sweet as buttercream. Plus, the ones you get at Vintage Patisserie are almost like a muffin at the bottom. I have eaten a lot of these in the last few years.
A lot of people profess to dislike cupcakes because they are, in fact, patently not ‘vintage’, at least not in the UK. Historically, we have been more into our Victoria Sponge, fruitcakes, scones, shortbread (among many others of course). A butterfly or modest fairycake if we must! Cupcakes hail from the United States, where everything seems a little more kitsch – some of the ones you get nowadays are sculptural piles of sugarcraft and empty calories. The English version, the classic fairy cake, is a much smaller affair, usually with only a thin layer of icing on top. At least, that’s my perception of it, and my personal experience. (I did just have a look on the Wikipedia page for cupcakes, just to see if I was getting it horribly wrong, and am quite perturbed to see a picture of a ‘butterfly cupcake’ on it! That is so not a thing!) And I think a lot of full-time vintage girls like to be seen to rebel against the mainstream, twee version of our style that’s pervaded popular culture. Most of us are more into ‘authentic’ looks than the trendy Cath Kidston version, after all*. But again, I do have chintzy tea dresses, curtains and china as well as lots of less girly stuff. I like a good mix, OK!
Ultimately though, if you put me in front of an afternoon tea, ten out of every ten times, I will go for the savoury foods first. Sandwiches, good. Quiche, good. Pork pies, gooooood. Scotch eggs… I could go on. I snapped some photos at the Vintage Mafia do at the Blacksmith last week that illustrates my fondness for stodgy English classics. At least insofar as I had no inkling of writing this post at the time, I just wanted to photograph some pies.
I actually ate two of the homemade Scotch eggs above, they were that good. Tasty saisage and a perfectly hardboiled egg with just a hint of runny yolk. Excuse me while I dribble (and sorry veggies). My taste for savoury stuff also translates into a love of bitter cocktails – I’d rather have a Negroni than a fruity thing, any time.
I don’t really know what point I am trying to make with this post, so do forgive me for just rambling away. I like cupcakes to a point, but they are not my favourite thing and so it does get a tiny bit annoying that they are so ubiquitous on the ‘vintage scene’. Give me a slice of Vicky sponge any day! While I probably won’t turn one down, I might not always eat it myself. But if you offer me a finger sandwich, pastry and meat-based product or other savoury snack item (or, as I’ve mentioned on here before, a burger), I’ll probably eat it, and your actual fingers holding it out as well.
What say you, readers? Cupcakes or pork pies? There’s only one way to find out… fiiiiight!
*I’m sure I don’t need to say this but I’m not trying to open the debate about who’s more vintage again… you may only row about the two food items above 😉 Go team pork pie!