The Interpretation of Cakes.

Freud-babkaI am happy to confess I did not write a word of this book. It is a faithful reproduction of Berko Finkielkraut’s lecture to the 5th Congress of the International Association of Psychoanalysis, Budapest, September, 1918.

Berko 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.

Finkielkraut’s essay examined the explorations of Isak Brodsky, proprietor of Brodsky’s Fine Cakes and Pastries in Rumbach Útca, Budapest. In 1915, Brodsky stumbled on a simple, yet powerful truth; purchasing a cake is an emotionally charged activity which can expose unresolved psychological conflicts. A trained Cake-analyst can facilitated deep psychic change through an accurate and empathic interpretation of the cake-choice.

Jákáb Lendvai, Finkielkraut’s colleague and only friend, said, ‘Finkielkraut introduces the reader to the fundamental premises of psychoanalytic thinking, while providing a thrilling account of the highs and lows of the Brodsky experiment. Berko also kindly includes some astonishing cake recipes.’

Lendvai planned to publish Finkielkraut’s manuscript. However, he was concerned that attempting to change the cake shop from provedore of pastries to pedlar of analytic interpretation, would inspire a fierce public backlash.

Four stone lions guard the approaches to the Chain Bridge, the first permanent crossing of the Danube in Budapest. Before Lendvai died, he hid the manuscript in the thraot of the lion on the upstream edge on the Pest side of the bridge. It was a regal resting place for his friend’s finest effort.

The journey from the great Sacher Torte emergency to the mouth of the Chain Bridge lion requires a book of its own. In the meantime, I’m thinking of rewriting Finkielkraut’s text into a television series called ‘Baking Bad’.


“Mrs Davidovitis, sometimes life feels like the Piskóta. It just goes round and round until finally spiralling into nothing."

From The  Interpretation of Cakes

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