A Good Home, Cake, Dessert, Food, Poetry

The Hungry Philosopher

At dinner that evening, I asked a man

Who had taken three pieces of cake

One after the other

Though he paused before the last

Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea
Photo by Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Tea

And looked straight at me across the table

As if seeking a stranger’s approval

Then dug right in

With an almost-grunt of satisfaction


“What happened?” I asked him, curious,

“At that very last moment

Just before

You gave in to temptation?”

Photo Courtesy of The No Grainer Baker
Photo Courtesy of The No Grainer Baker

He smiled at the crumbs on his plate

Then looked at me and said:

“You tell yourself

That it won’t be that bad, not really


That’s what you tell yourself.

It is, after all, such a little thing

A small piece of nothing

That you’ll make up for later.”

Jamaican Christmas Cake - Google Images
Jamaican Christmas Cake – Google Images

The hungry philosopher smiled again

But sadly now, at his plate

Regretful, yes

And something else, perhaps


A bit of shame caused by a stranger

Who spoke

When she should have stayed quiet

And let the man enjoy his cake.


Dedicated to everyone who knows when to keep their mouth shut.

31 thoughts on “The Hungry Philosopher”

  1. Oh Cynthia! So funny and so uncomfortable at the same time! This really struck home with me. The times that I have wished certain words unsaid are legion! I can usually control what I say when discussing the big issues but it’s the moments like you have described here, when we are off our guard that we say the most silly/thoughtless/hurtful things and usually to the nicest people.

    1. Life’s like that.
      Cringe-worthy, right?
      But, hey – we’re not perfect. I’d hate even more to be perfect!

      Hope the new year is off to a good start. I ate too much — just like the hungry philosopher.

    1. A rough night, but life’s like that. At least I got a few things done yesterday, including cooking one of the few Jamaican dishes I do well. OK – the only one I do well. The family likes it.

  2. Sorry to hear about the rough night. Too much cake? 😉 I gave my sister some rough nights when I visited her recently. We had to share a bed and she said I talked in my sleep and snored. Not sure I wanted to know that! 😀 😀

  3. Ms CR, are you trying to tell me something? thanks anyway, coming from you, I know you mean well, you always do! best for the new year.
    one love

  4. Great post Cynthia… Temptation is falling upon me right now… And by that I mean: you made me hungry 😛
    Sending you all my best wishes!. Aquileana 😀

  5. Who could resist a piece of chocolate cake? 😉 The Jamaican Christmas cake looks simply irresistible too! Sorry, I can’t keep my mouth shut … looking at them, Cynthia. They are so inviting. So there you are. 🙂

    1. I tell you, Iris: the Jamaican Christmas cake is the food of the devil – I dare anyone to resist it. The Jamaicans have taken the English Christmas pudding (from back when Jamaica was British) and turned it into something wonderful.

  6. Hi Cynthia, I can so relate to your post, I think its fair to speak up at the 3rd piece of cake though! We ate the last of my daughters homemade Christmas Pudding at lunchtime today, your Jamaican Christmas Cake sounds delicious and would certainly be a winner in this house.

  7. Cottage pie is very easy. I use about 1lb minced beef or steak and fry it with a chopped onion (and sometimes a clove of garlic) in a little oil in an ovenproof dish. You can then add whatever seasonings and chopped vegetables you like or whatever you have got in the cupboard at the time. I always include carrots, celery, maybe sweet pepper and/or courgette, mushrooms. I add salt, pepper, a little beef stock, a splash of soy sauce and the same amount of worcestershire sauce, a few mixed herbs. My mother never adds stock but she always chops her vegetables very finely so they cook through quickly. This is cooked on the hob stirring now and then until the stock has reduced and the vegetables have softened. I peel and slice some potatoes put them in salted water and bring them to the boil. Strain them and cover the meat and vegetable mix with the slices. You then put the dish in a hot oven for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through and starting to brown. I often put a little butter, oil or cheese on the potatoes before putting the dish in the oven. I serve this with some green vegetables like peas or green beans or a salad. Shepherd’s Pie is made in the same way except that the meat is minced or chopped lamb or mutton and the potatoes are usually mashed. Traditional dishes started off as being food made by poor people who cooked what they had – a very little meat bulked up with vegetables – so it doesn’t really matter what we put in as long as we enjoy it.

  8. Ah, Cynthia, your pictures made me hungry for chocolate cake, which I can’t have. 😦 It’s funny the things we feel guilty over. I have learned by my many mistakes to keep my fat mouth firmly closed, but I still sometimes slip up and say something when I shouldn’t. 😀 xo

  9. Chocolate can be my undoing. I’m certain that one of my 6 siblings, my 4 children, or my husband would raise eyebrows if I reached for a third piece…. out of love and trust. But, yes! I would be hurt if a stranger passed judgement!

  10. Cynthia, Thank you for featuring the picture our Simply Splendid Victorian Afternoon Teas very special gateau developed in honour of a very special lady – YOU!
    I did not know there was a Jamaican Christmas cake distinct from the traditional Christmas cakes. Would love to discuss.

    1. I look at the picture of that Lady Cynthia Cake and I immediately feel just like the Hungry Philosopher. Such a delicious, wonderful cake, Marilyn.

      Yes, we’ll have to discuss the Jamaican Christmas cake.

      Great to hear from you.

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