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Short Stories 365/153 | N.S. Beranek

“Vanilla, Sugar, Butter, Salt” by Anna Meadows from Best Lesbian Romance 2012 (Cleis Press). Edited by Radclyffe.

If there isn’t already there should be a collection of LGBT short stories with a baking/culinary theme. This story and Neil Plakcy’s “The Baker” from Best Gay Romance 2013 (also Cleis Press) could start it off.

This story is an absolute delight to read. There are beautiful passages all the way through, descriptions so lyrical that time and again I found myself speaking fragments of sentences aloud. Consider this: “Under the bakery’s blue apron, she wears blouses the color of peonies or butter.” Or how about: “Her hair grazes her shoulders like a fall of molasses.”

Blake is a shy girl whose daily commute takes her, on foot, past a neighborhood bakery. There she sees, through the shop’s plate glass window, a young woman of about her own age, working the counter. The stranger always waves at her, but Blake doesn’t wave back. For one thing, she’s much to shy to do so. She also doesn’t have a sweet tooth. In fact, she dislikes sweets. Her tastes run to salt, so strongly that she carries a tin of gourmet French salt with her at all times, the way people did with snuff in centuries past.

It seems unlikely the two will find common ground, until an accident alters the story ingredients. A sweet, well-crafted tale and a wonderful opening to the collection.