I've been preparing for a theatrical show these last few weeks and finally came up for air yesterday after wrapping up our first weekend of performances. It's been a delicious whirlwind of stress and rehearsals and fun and nerves and friends and late nights and adrenaline. I have a little moment to catch my breath before the final round of shows this weekend and despite the relief, I feel a wave of melancholy. The coming down from all of it. No human can sustain that amount of energy for very long before it demands to balance itself out. And there's both a comfort and a sadness in going back to normal life. While your body and spirit need the normal, it feels pale in comparison at first. I immediately was catapulted back to those post-show blues I had so often as a teen and young adult. There was always that unique let-down after a show closed. It's different than TV or film. Theatre is so magical because of its inherent impermanence; only the people who were there to witness it know what happened, and that it happened. There's no reel clip or netflix rental or imdb credit.
Years ago I sang and danced in a Broadway musical for the better part of a lovely year. The show was (and still is) one of my top life experiences, yet after hundreds of performances it had become a bit of a grind. I was merely 20 and spent a good chunk of my week rehabilitating my tired dancer's body. I had started to develop repetitive injuries from some of the numbers--namely, a certain grueling polka that was the bane of my existence. It was fast and furious, jarring my bones and threatening to toss off my wig eight shows a week. So when the end of its run was approaching I felt a tremendous surge of excitement and possibility; I was young and excited for the next thing. The show closed with a giant flourish and after a week of much needed rest, I didn't know what to do with myself. I had such an odd feeling of displacement. I cried. I walked past the closed theatre and felt so territorial--how could another show inhabit its insides? I missed the routine and the giddy audience and the fierce camaraderie of my show family. I missed the craggy doorman and the in-between-show matzoh-balls and sharing cab rides home. I also started to miss the annoying things-- the watery coffee and stale bagels from the corner deli. Walking past heaps of slow-poke tourists in Times Square. The hot exhaust vent from the Chinese-food restaurant next to the stage door. I even missed my polka.
One of my generous cast-mates gifted me an obscenely large zucchini so I made a cake. With zucchini. And chocolate. (Chocolate is good for melancholy, turns out.)
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
adapted from Epicurious
Even though zucchini is in its abundant season, I'm pretty sure it can't be considered Eating Seasonally to hide it in a cake and douse it in chocolate. Perhaps worse? Rationalizing the consumption of multiple slices simply because it contains vegetables. They're not for naught, though. They discreetly make this cake super-deliciously moist.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I love Sharfen Berger)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a 10" springform pan (*alternatively, a 13x9x2 baking pan or an 8-cup bundt pan). Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat the sugar, butter and oil in an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in 3 additions each. Gently mix in zucchini. Pour batter into buttered pan and sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts on top (unless you are making a bundt, in which case mix the chips and nuts into the batter). Bake about 60 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before serving if you can stand it.