Every year the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8th. Ever heard of it? Don’t worry, neither have I. But when the opportunity to research this interesting holiday arose, I was instantly intrigued. What is this interesting holiday? Where did it come from? How do we celebrate it? Most importantly … is there cake? In this article, I’m planning on answering all these questions and more so read on and see how you can celebrate the next International Women’s Day with your loved ones!
A (Brief) History of International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the achievements of women, from social justice to political change, to heartbreaking works of art!. (I love it already!) Celebrated annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievement of women, raise awareness about equality, and raise funds for female-focused charities.
International Women’s Day has actually been observed since the early 1900s. Due to oppression and inequality, women were becoming more vocal and actively looking for a change. In 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter work hours, better pay, and voting rights. One year later, the Socialist Party of America declared the first National Woman’s Day in the United States on February 28th and it became celebrated on the last Sunday of February until 1913. Following discussions, International Women’s Day was agreed to be marked annually on March 8th. By now, women across Europe were holding rallies to campaign against the war and to express women’s solidarity.
1975 saw the first official celebration of Women’s Day by the United Nations. But the holiday continues to grow even today. Many countries, the US included, have decided that no single day can truly commemorate everything women have done, and continue to do, for the world. So they use the entire month of March to celebrate women!
Why you should send her some cake for International Women’s Day!
Like most things, the tradition of celebrating cakes goes back to ancient times. Ancient Egyptians believed crowning Pharaohs turned them into Gods. They marked the transition from human to deity with huge coronations that involved sweets.
The Ancient Greeks also celebrated Gods and Goddesses in a similar fashion. They would honor the lunar goddess, Artemis, by making moon-shaped cakes with candles on top, a representation of the light of the moon. This later became a tradition that continued evolving through time.
However, prior to the Industrial Revolution, the items that make a cake – eggs, milk, butter, and sugar – were considered luxury items, especially sugar. Unless you were wealthy, any food that contained real sugar instead of less expensive sweeteners like honey, molasses, sorghum, or maple syrup would be considered a rare treat.
Last, cake brings so much happiness to the people who are being celebrated. A sweet, yet versatile treat that fits any celebration. The possibilities are endless! Shapes, patterns, flavors, colors … There is virtually no limit to how decadent or simple you can go with this not-so-average dessert. Cake is a symbol of positivity that brings a smile to everyone’s face.
Our Top 3 Baking Queens: Julia Child
Julia Child was an American cooking teacher, author, and television personality. Her debut cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, brought French cuisine to the American public, however, her most notable claim to fame was her television show, The French Chef, which premiered in 1963.
Julia Child had a substantial impact on American households. Her honest approach to cooking – including blunders as well as wins – awarded her authenticity and approachability for viewing housewives. While the show aired before the feminist movement of the 1960s, it still did a lot to empower the women of the day and continues to inspire many amazing and gifted chefs.
Over the next several decades, she was the star of numerous television programs, including Julia Child & Company, Julia Child & More Company, and Dinner at Julia’s. She founded the American Institute of Wine & Food in 1981, with vintners Robert Mondavi and Richard Graff, and others with hopes to “advance the understanding, appreciation, and quality of wine and food.”, but it wasn’t until 1989 that she published what she considered to be her magnum opus: a book and instructional video series collectively entitled The Way To Cook.
Modern-day nutritionists have consistently questioned Child’s use of ingredients like butter and cream in her recipes. She shot down these criticisms throughout her career, calling it a “fanatical fear of food” that would take over the country’s dining habits. She also remained steadfast that focusing too much on nutrition takes the pleasure of enjoying food. In a 1990 interview, Child said, “Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don’t suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.”
Our Top 3 Baking Queens: Jessica Prealpato
Jessica Préalpato is a pastry chef from France. She is head pastry chef at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, and in 2019 enjoyed the title of World’s Best Pastry Chef, due to her personal spin on French Chef Alain Ducasse’s method of ‘naturalité’. A technique she calls ‘desseralité’.
The French word ‘naturalité’ specifies something that belongs to nature. Ducasse theory is that by preserving an ingredient’s ‘naturality’, you can create the greatest embodiment of its natural qualities. Jessica Préalpato thought that Ducasse’s principle could be applied to sweet as easily as it does to savoury – and viola, ‘desseralité’ was born.
“Desseralité is a mixture of dessert and naturalité,” explains Préalpato. “And this word perfectly describes my pastry. These are desserts with a raw visual; on the plate, everything must have a meaning.”
Striving for a lighter and healthier, yet still delicious, style of pastry, Préalpato puts French produce in the spotlight. The Plaza Athénée team sources only the highest-quality French ingredients, such as peanuts from the region of Hautes-Pyrénées in southwest France combined with soya milk and caramel. Other simple combinations and exciting flavors inspire this pastry chef, including pear and tea or strawberries and soya. She has even wowed the world with a dessert made with beer!
Jessica Préalpato is truly a worthy winner of The World’s Best Pastry Chef Award 2019, and we can’t wait to see what new and innovative desserts she comes up with next.
Our Top 3 Baking Queens: Lorraine Pascale
Lorraine Pascale has an impressive resume. She is a former top model, British television cook, and USA Food Network host. (Her television shows can be viewed in 70 countries worldwide!) In addition, she is the owner of Ella’s Bakehouse, a retail outlet in London that sells baked goods. And, as if all that isn’t inspiring enough, she is also an emotional wellness advocate along with an Ambassador in the United Kingdom for Government Fostering and Adoption.
After modeling for several years, Pascale knew that in order to ensure her future, she needed a secondary career choice. She took a diploma cookery course at Leith’s School of Food and Wine in 2005 and found that cookery fitted her “like a pair of old jeans”. After graduating, she worked at a few London restaurants, however, quickly realized that restaurant hours would not suit her lifestyle. Pascale then established herself as a specialist cakemaker, with a contract with Selfridges, and, in 2008 and 2010, she supplied the London store with over 1000 Christmas cakes.
Pascale then opened her own cupcake shop in London’s Covent Garden section and published several books that became BBC television series. She is also a judge on Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship and Spring Baking Championship and a mentor on Worst Bakers in America. She was a guest judge on two episodes of Bakers vs. Fakers, Season 1, and became the host for Season 2.
Woo-Hoo! You’ve learned all about International Women’s Day!
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- Smile and Eat Cake.
Toni T. is a writer, mother, amateur makeup artist, and coffee addict — not necessarily in that order! A lover of all things vintage, she’s an encyclopedia of useless 80’s trivia and adores a bold red lip. She is a second-generation Greek American with dreams of traveling abroad to see the land on which her ancestors walked but, for now, she resides in the ‘burbs of New Jersey with her husband and children.