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Mindful travel demands a well thought out cake-eating philosophy. For Vienna, I chose reconciliation. (For Budapest, it was renewal).

In the 1950’s and 60’s, a bitter seven year legal battle was fought between Vienna’s Sacha Hotel and Demel Bakery over the ownership of the original Sacher Torte recipe. It was tempting to visit the city and pretend this was all in the past. However, in cake-history, and trauma-history, fifty years is a blink of the eye. It is contingent on us all to act sensitively. My contribution to the Viennese détente was to purchase Tortes from both establishments. The resultant warm inner glow felt peculiarly comforting.

As I rode the city’s superb cycle path along the Ringstrasse to the Freud Museum, my heart felt open and my mind free. I started to wonder about Freud and the Sacher Torte. I had just reached the Rathausplatz when it occurred to me that the man who lived in the centre of the golden age of baking, both temporally and geographically, barely mentioned cakes. All that sex, but no time for eating!

Surely everything that could be said about Freud had been written. Yet here was a glaring omission! The staff at the Museum seemed doggedly uninterested, but my life mission had been determined.

‘Freud was not a habitué of cafés and salons’, writes Andre Haynal, in his introduction to the Correspondence of Sigmund Freud and the Hungarian analyst, Sándor Ferenczi. Unfortunately, Haynal does not explore this enigmatic aspect of Freud’s personality, nor its impact on psychoanalytic theory.

“I did manage to say “croissants”, since I always get Kipfel with my coffee,” Freud wrote from Paris in 1885, according to Gil Marks in her ‘Encyclopaedia of Jewish Cooking’. Kipfel, like the croissant, is more bread than cake, and generally provides a hearty foundation for the breakfast plate. Perhaps Freud would not let himself be seduced by the sweet Sacher Torte. This could explain his failure to contemplate the relationship between cakes and the Id.

I never resolved the Freudian/cakes mystery. However, I did unearthed something of immeasurable value:


The Interpretation of Cakes: A Case Study of Isak Brodsky and Cake-analysis, by Berko Finkielkraut, presented to the 5th Congress of the International Psychoanalytic Association, Budapest, September 1918.

Freud-babka-detailBerko Finkielkraut’s life almost followed the classic story of the down and out psychoanalyst, who turns it all around with a breakthrough paper. Finkielkraut’s meteoric rise was thwarted when Freud called his presentation ‘a scientific fairy tale’, cruelly echoing Baron Richard von Krafft Ebbing’s response to Freud’s own ‘Aetiology of Hysteria’ lecture in 1896. Finkielkraut fled from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences building and was never seen again.

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