Birthday Burritos (and Other Cake Alternatives)

March  3, 2016

Why do we celebrate birthdays with cakes? Where is this law written, and more importantly, why has the thought to rebel never occurred to me before now?

It turns out, birthday cakes can trace their origins back to no less mighty a people than the Greeks, who offered moon-shaped cakes to the lunar goddess, Artemis. They lit these with candles to represent the radiant glow of the moon. Modern birthday celebrations are more closely related to the Kinderfeste parties of medieval Germany, which were held in honor of a child's birthday, and included cakes lit with candles.

So there is some precedent for our birthday cake ways, but that doesn't mean we can't shake things up. There are such few cakes that really excite me, yet a vast world of culinary options that do. Wild Boar Ragu, for example—that's something I'm pumped to eat, always. I'm pretty sure it can accommodate a candle, it's just a matter of carefully arranging the pappardelle.

A quick poll of our team revealed I am not alone in my desire for cake alternatives:

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Sarah: "Baba ghanouj, first choice."
Amanda: "Baguette + butter + candle."
Kenzi: "Warm brioche + butter + salt + candle." Also, "CEREAL!"
Leslie: "Anything but cake...pie would be first choice!"
Sarah D.: "I always have birthday pie! Last year, this included a candle."
Sam: "Burrito cake." Or, a "root beer float."

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“i would be thrilled to stick a candle in that wild boar ragu next year”
— Rebecca F.

Now, I open the floor to you: What non-cake item do you edgy folks eat on your birthday? Have you ever stuck a candle in a steak? Do you want to? Tell us in the comments!

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Annie Crabill

Written by: Annie Crabill


Panfusine March 4, 2016
When I was a kid, my mother would very often tease me that she would make a large idli (steamed rice & lentil cake, an iconic South Indian Breakfast) and get me to cut it. Needless to say, Baking was unheard of at home since we didn't have an oven.
Fast forward.. I seriously intend making idlies in cupcake molds & serving it up to my daughter on her birthday. Its her favorite breakfast.
Sheena G. March 4, 2016
My family has a long tradition of picking an entire birthday meal - whatever you want, no matter how zany.
My eldest son recently turned 18, and he requested home made gyros and lemon meringue pie. Next week, I'll make my daughter chili and spaghetti and cookie pizza. My husband gets brisket and cheesecake. And on my birthday, each of my 4 kids chooses a dish they think I'll love to prepare for me. Last year I had butter chicken, macaroni & peas, greek salad and a Spider Man ice cream cake.
Tryumph March 3, 2016
Brown Rice Krispie treats with organic peanut butter and good chocolate chips beats cake anytime
toekneeray March 3, 2016
Nothing as beat the Birthday Chocolate Trifle my sister-in-law made for me a few years ago. And yes there was a candle in it :)
Amanda March 3, 2016
A nitrogen gelato place near me celebrated their birthday with an ice cream burger... they could have gone down the classic, predictable route of an ice-cream cake but nope. Instead they created a burger.
cindy March 3, 2016
One time I put some Budweiser's in a cake pan with some candles on top and served it as a "Bud-Day" cake to one of my friends
Rebecca F. March 3, 2016
as a person who likes cake, but doesn't seem to *love* it as much as the rest of the world, this made my day! i would be thrilled to stick a candle in that wild boar ragu next year
Sarah E. March 3, 2016
Still wanting to see a cereal candle.
FoodieYogi March 3, 2016
robin.amato March 3, 2016
Yes my husband has stuck a candle in a steak before. I enjoy a good birthday brownie, or ice cream sunday.