“Once upon a time, in a far-off land, I was kidnapped by a gang of fearless yet terrified young men with so much impossible hope beating inside their bodies it burned their very skin and strengthened their will right through their bones.”
Remember last post when everything was happy and light and soaked in whiskey? Wasn’t that nice? Now, allow me and Roxane Gay to bring it way down.
That quote up there? That’s how the book STARTS. On the surface “An Untamed State,” tells the story of a woman with a near perfect life—husband and baby make three—who visits her parents in Haiti and is promptly kidnapped and tortured for a group of men until her ransom is paid thirteen days later. The second part of the book tells the story of that same woman trying to put her life back together. But this book is really about so much more. It’s about fear and hope and the end of fairytales. It’s about marriage and the relationship between a daughter and father. It’s about Haiti and race and sexism and class-ism.
It’s heavy, but once I started I couldn’t put it down. I went through it quickly, but it stayed with me for a long time. In addition to earthquakes that make the entire world stop and pay attention, Haiti was also once known as the kidnapping capital of the world. So while this book is fiction, it speaks about real issues, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has read Roxane Gay before.
This is a complicated book. These are complicated cupcakes, but hopefully a lot more cheerful. Because I know next to nothing about Haiti, I reached out to the internet from some inspiration. Big on fruit. Not big on desserts, Haiti. A lot of the dessert recipes just sounded like a sweeter version of banana bread. But then I came across a recipe for mango/coconut/ginger cupcakes with lemon glaze/icing. The ingredient list is lengthy, but honestly these were the easiest cupcakes in the world to make.
Well, until it was time to mash mangoes. I should've bought PULP, not diced mangoes. Note to self: Buy what the recipe says, not what's conveniently in front of your face at Kroger.
Ya’ll. I LOVE mangoes. Who knew? I had to turn these into pulp myself, which resulted in a lot of angry mashing with a fork, yelling and mango bits and pieces everywhere. Thank God for aprons. Thank God for cats who lick the floor clean.
An Untamed State: 5 stars
Mango Cupcakes: 5 stars
The finished product was delicious and actually quite pretty. Not your normal cupcake--the sweetness comes mostly from the mangoes. You'll notice the recipe doesn't call for a lot of sugar. The sweetness of the mango goes well with lemon and the lemon zest adds a bit of color.
“We loved Haiti. We hated Haiti. We did not understand Haiti or know Haiti. Years later, I still did not understand Haiti, but I longed for the Haiti of my childhood. When I was kidnapped, I knew I would never find that Haiti again.”
“I am not easy to love but I am well loved. I try to love well in return.”
“It is often women who pay the price for what men want.”
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups mango pulp (I used one can of diced mangoes and one bag of frozen chopped mangoes--then beat them to a pulp myself.)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups powdered sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
zest from 1 lemon
If you'd like to see the recipe followed correctly, visit Peaceful Cooking. If you'd like to see what I did, scroll down.
1) Blend butter and sugar until creamy.
2) Blend all dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
3) Alternate adding milk and dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
4) Try your best to pulp your diced mangoes.
5) Yell at the cat out of frustration.
6) Add the mangoes, vanilla, and coconut to the mixture.
7) Smile because your apartment smells like mangoes.
8) Apologize to the cat for yelling, tell her you were just stressed.
9) Pour into greased cupcake liners and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.
1) Mix ingredients until the glaze is thick, yet pour-able.
2) Lemon zest seems purely for looks. Do it anyway. It makes them pretty.