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Cake seventh heaven

September 27, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia and gingerbread

And then she saw that there was a light ahead of her; not a few inches away where the back of the wardrobe ought to have been, but a long way off.  Something cold and soft was falling on her.

That sentence was the beginning of my journey into Narnia and, as a seven-year old, I was totally spellbound.  I revisited many, many times over the years via the Chronicles of Narnia, seeing it through my own eyes then again with my children. Planet Narnia, a book and documentary linking the books to the imagery of the seven heavens gave me a different viewpoint with jovial Jupiter, its cheerful, festive, tranquil and magnanimous astrological attributes embodied by The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (and giving context to the Jupiter movement from Gustav Holst’s The Planet Suite which I adore).

A new chapter

On July 26th 2010 someone visited My Custard Pie and left this comment:

Comment from In a Frying Pan

My fingers flew over the keyboard as I dashed off an enthusiastic reply.  The same sort of thoughts had been going through my own mind for a while.  I returned to Dubai and suggested we meet at BakefestDXB, a ‘tweet-up’ at Wild Peeta (a tweet-up is where people who have only previous communicated via Twitter meet up in reality).  Nerves overtook me and I sat outside in the car for about 10 minutes before plucking up the courage before going in to face a room of complete strangers (psychopaths? weirdos? teenagers?!).

Tea, cake and the old cosmology of the planets

I opened the door and went inside.  This was my Narnia moment, like entering the wardrobe and discovering another world.  For fawns, dwarves, eagles, lions and a lot of snow substitute an eclectic group of generous people energised by Miss I Live in a Frying Pan (previously known as Foodonymph!) and lots of icing.  I haven’t looked back since.


To celebrate  the anniversary of that fateful comment we plumped for a date after Ramadan and the summer hols to meet up at Tea Junction in Bur Dubai.  In just over a year, two food bloggers (eating cake) has grown to a group of almost 70 food bloggers, all based in the United Arab Emirates.

Cakathon collageOver that time we’ve set up a private Facebook group called Famished in Arabia and used this to coordinate a series of events.  These have ranged from dinner over cheap and not-so-cheap eats, cookery classes, gingerbread decorating, restaurant openings, a food blogger safari, informal photography workshop sessions, visits to the fish market, a baklava factory and a chocolatierBakefest DXB 2, cake decorating classes, a chocolate-festCome Dine With Me Dubai contests,  recipe development competitions and a picnic to name a few.

Our blogs are as varied as the dishes at an international restaurant and we hail from all over the world with India, Sri Lanka, Germany, Australia, Cyprus, France, Germany, Spain, Philippines, Holland, Tanzania, Yemen, United Kingdom, South Africa, USA, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates all represented (and more).    Some of us contribute to a collaborative site called TableTalk and we’ve been featured in various publications including The National.  And it’s not limited to food only, members have changed career, had babies, been on television, run marathons and have received the moral support of the group.  (There’s a list of UAE food bloggers here).

Gingerbread and poached pears

And me? I now think nothing of going to a gathering of complete strangers as long as there is food in common.  I wore a shield of confidence at Food Blogger Connect this summer which would rival Peter’s present from Father Christmas.  I’ve been inspired, learned so much and been given generous support that I’m exceptionally grateful for.  Could it be the magnanimous influence of Jupiter?  There’s always cheerfulness and festivity when this group get together and everyone is welcome at our table as long as they blog about food and respect each member.

So for this momentous anniversary, there was only one way to celebrate.  No, not with Turkish Delight…with cake of course. Lots of it. I made sticky gingerbread (recipe link on my last post where I ate it for breakfast).  The others ranged from shop-bought beauties to gorgeous purple yam cake (and everything in between).

Who knows what we’ll be looking back on and who’ll be sitting round our table this time next year. One things for sure – it’ll be a lot of fun.  Thank heaven.

World Peace is a Peace of Cake Mind Map

I thought this was especially poignant - from Mind Map Inspiration

  1. September 27, 2011 8:24 am

    So warm and touching, I almost.. just nearly shed a tear. Its such a joy to be part of this ‘Narnia’, and an even bigger joy knowing you in this group..(FYI i vote for being the cooking crazy mommy beaver). Look forward to more meet-ups with the crew and you!

  2. September 27, 2011 9:09 am

    Sally, how wonderful! It has made me sad that I missed it. Going to a cake-a -thon with a child who is allergic to gluten, eggs and dairy would not have been fun. So glad to be part of the group anyway and that you invited me along all those months ago.

  3. September 27, 2011 9:29 am

    aw Sally…you brought tears to my eyes¡¡¡ what a wonderful read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts¡¡

  4. September 27, 2011 9:29 am

    Sally! this is a really nice read about how all this started, and how such a fabulous group had come together. You and Arva have created this fabulous community for food bloggers, which had become like an emporium for all things food on many levels. this community is a haven for foodies!

    I am really disappointed to have missed the anniversary get together 😦 but look forward to the coming events 🙂

    Thx for all your efforts, deeply appreciated 🙂

  5. September 27, 2011 10:28 am

    Love Love love the post!!! So lovely to be part of this group! Thanks to you and iliveinafryingpan for brining us foodies together!! here’s to many more wonderful cakes!

  6. Yasmin permalink
    September 27, 2011 10:53 am

    Love, love, love this post.
    I couldn’t ask for a better group or community that is constantly so supportive. Famished in Arabia has become a very important part of my life! I love that food has brought us all together and I’m so grateful to be involved with this super awesome group.

  7. September 27, 2011 10:56 am

    What a wonderful story! See what can happen when people come together (over cake)? What fun to read about your community of food bloggers. Btw- was just thinking of the Chronicles of Narnia JUST last night and how it’s about time to introduce these stories to my children, but mostly, I just want an excuse to re-read them ;-).

    • September 27, 2011 10:17 pm

      The books in the photographs are my originals from when I was little Stephanie. I loved discovering them again through my girls. The only series I regret they didn’t totally love (like I did) were the Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books.

  8. September 27, 2011 11:12 am

    Loved reading the post,Sally.Thanks to you and Arva for forming such a wonderful group.Glad that I discovered this community as a newbie food blogger.Looking forward to more events and meet-ups with you and rest of the foodies.

  9. September 27, 2011 11:36 am

    If this is Narnia, what a wonderful place it is.

    Out of all the food bloggers, I see you as a mother figure in this group (to me), and value your opinion and look forward to seeing you every time. Your calm nature, your pleasant smile and the energy you radiate…it’s these things and more that make me enjoy your company every time.
    Your blog is fantastic, and your insights valuable.

    I’m honoured to know you.

  10. September 27, 2011 12:31 pm

    As someone who met you at FBC11 this summer, I can only agree – food is the passport to wonderful company, great conversation and heartening solidarity

    • September 27, 2011 10:13 pm

      What an exceptionally nice comment Charlie and I wholeheartedly agree.

  11. September 27, 2011 12:56 pm

    How lovely that you’ve met so many wonderful fellow bloggers! Great story, Sally!

    • September 27, 2011 10:12 pm

      It’s been a ball Celia.

  12. September 27, 2011 1:24 pm

    A big thanks to you and Arva for starting up FIA!

    • September 27, 2011 10:09 pm

      Abigail, Dee, Farwin, Yasmin, Dina, My Mezzaluna, Deema, Marta and Drina – I am really quite overwhelmed by all the lovely comments. Thank YOU all for making up such a lovely, generous group of people.

  13. September 27, 2011 1:39 pm

    one of m y favourite childhood books! What a lovely group of people you are and may you continue to share so much blog love 🙂

    • September 27, 2011 10:10 pm

      I can’t imagine my childhood without this book Tandy. Yes we are very lucky.

  14. September 27, 2011 3:13 pm

    My dearest Custard Pie, the blogger whose smiling face and energy instantly put me at ease the second I met you at Wild Peeta, a comment box can’t even begin to capture the mushy moment I’m feeling in my heart right now after reading your post.

    All I can do is to thank you. This group makes me so excited and passionate, there has been nothing more rewarding to blogging than the friendships I have found in you and all the others. For responding to my message, taking the first step forward together as a baby group, infecting us all with your contagious energy, giving us valuable and passionate feedback, but above all, for being one of the most thoughtful and kindhearted friends I have made in our blogger group, Thank You. You have been my foodie thought partner and confidante, and I love the ease with which we can connect and understand each other, even when things get tricky – which they are bound to get as the group grows larger! Exciting times ahead, and I can’t wait to see them through with you.

    Friendships above all else.
    Your friend, your fan and your foodie mate for times to come.
    I Live in a Frying Pan.

    • September 27, 2011 10:12 pm

      How on earth can I reply to this ‘AWESOME, AMAZING’ comment. I’ll just say you are ‘AWESOME, AMAZING’ . Going off to shed a quiet tear.

  15. September 27, 2011 3:22 pm

    Truly a wonderful story 🙂

  16. September 27, 2011 10:57 pm

    What a wonderful blog post Sally. I feel so sad to have missed this epic cake a thon. Let there be many more inshallah. So glad you responded to that comment from Arva and FiA was born thanks to you two 🙂 We will all be forever grateful.

  17. September 27, 2011 11:58 pm

    Oh my … you’ve just combined my desert island discs book and luxury item …. 🙂

  18. September 28, 2011 12:05 am

    How absolutely fabulous. Love your wardrobe moment and the way you’ve linked this up to Narnia. Quite envious of having such a great group, it’s a bit more isolated where I am and no food bloggers or bakers anywhere near me (that I’m aware of). Also very envious of your cake fest – wow!

  19. Tricia Evans permalink
    September 28, 2011 8:03 am

    What a gorgeous post Sally – and what a marvelous time you’re all having with this group. I LOVE reading your posts. Tricia x

  20. September 28, 2011 8:26 am

    This blog post is one of the best I have ever read on any blog from all over the world!
    The imagination, the emotions, and the chosen words all made me feel warm inside.

    We’re all growing as people, and as food bloggers and the good part is that there are many people who share the same interests to grow with!

  21. September 29, 2011 9:51 am

    Love the way you tied the Narnia chronicles to the evolution of the Dubai food blogger group and food groups in general. In Israel the English speaking food bloggers are a small group and despite being so different from one another- religious, vegetarians, vegans, single, married, each with such different backgrounds- food brings us together.

  22. September 29, 2011 6:31 pm

    I love this post.. It’s so beautifully written ❤ got me all teary-eyed.

    I am so glad to know people like you.. here's to many more events and memories. ❤

  23. September 30, 2011 2:35 pm

    Hey Sally, I’m so inspired to pack my bags, grab my family and shift my home to UAE after reading this post. Seriously! I used to visit UAE oft while my parents lived there (dad retired 2 years back), I even went to school in Abu-Dhabi.

    Hmm, wish I could find some food bloggers based in Qatar. Do gimme a shout if you visit to Doha. Cheers!

    • October 3, 2011 9:03 am

      Keep in touch – we are not very far and we can send any foodie news from the Gulf your way.

  24. October 1, 2011 9:24 pm

    Such an emotive and touching post Sally. Am so sad to have missed the cakeathon 😦


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