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Mom, Interrupted: Is it a column or is it cake?

Don’t ask twice, Netflix, give me a fork and I’ll tell you!

Clicking around in the dusty, dark corners of the interwebs, I found the Mona Lisa, and she was singing.

This is, of course, impossible. La Gioconda can’t sing. She’s a painting, and a famously old and presumably silent painting at that. She can look infuriatingly mysterious; she can be surprisingly small and surrounded by a swarming crowd there in her room at the Louvre; but she cannot sing. That she is now belting out show tunes through the miracle of modern technology that Leonardo Davinci never envisioned is disturbing and more than a little bit creepy, if you ask me, and of course you didn’t but that’s the point of this whole exercise, no?

‘Disturbing and more than a little bit creepy’ is, of course, The Mood Of The Year, what with the intrusion of artificial intelligence in our lives. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s an improvement on Last Year’s Mood: ‘If I don’t look, maybe it will go away.’ 

And now ‘Disturbing and more than a little bit creepy’ has even edged into the place where so many of us have gone to escape The Mood Of The Year: Comfort Food, appropriately and thoroughly binged on Comfort Television.

As the Grand Dame of this genre (Comfort Food Served On A Slice of Comfort Television), "The Great British Bake Off" has never been what it appears to be. To start with, in these parts we have to call it "The Great British Baking Show" so Poppin’ Fresh doesn’t go off on us with a rolling pin, and the show remains stubbornly enigmatic about that whole pudding thing. Is it a cake? Is it a dessert? It’s both, and neither? Oh, sod off, Paul Hollywood!

So one evening when Netflix paternally asked me if I was still breathing during a rewatch of Patisserie Week, Season 14 (you know the one! it was when Tasha’s buttercream curdled!) I stumbled across a worthy entry in the Comfort Food/Comfort TV arena: a little truffle of a show called "Is It Cake?"

Don’t ask twice, Netflix, give me a fork and I’ll tell you!

If you haven’t been drawn into this, I’ll summarize: bakers create hyper-realistic cakes depicting ordinary items (a boot, for example) and then display the cake next to decoys (in this example, real, inedible boots) and then judges try to guess which ones are the cakes and which are the decoys while standing several feet away from the display. There’s a surprising amount of psychology involved; not only do the bakers produce the cakes, they also manipulate the decoys to make the decoys look cakier while simultaneously making the cakes look more decoy-ier.

Now I’m just making words up. I do not understand why I like this show so much, but I can tell you that if I see a new episode I am all over that like a tub of cheap fondant.

Bringing us full circle, in the finale of this new show that is literally based on nothing being what it appears to be, one of the bakers created the Mona Lisa in cake, complete with frame, and (this is where the creepy part creeps in) completely fooled the judges. Mercifully, his cake did not sing a medley from "West Side Story;" I’m not clear about whether that was because it wasn’t able to or whether they just couldn’t get the rights to the songs.

So in an ironic twist, here I’ve been worried all along about videos that were deepfake, and I never gave a thought to deepcake. 

Next up: we examine deepflake. I’m pretty sure Tony the Tiger can’t really hold a bowl of cereal, given his lack of opposable thumbs.

Elizabeth Evans is a local mother, wife, daughter, sister, former stay-at-home mom, former work-outside-the-home mom, former work-at-home mom and a human resources consultant.