Does race matter? My kitchen radio keeps broadcasting this question. Perplexed interviewers repeatedly put it to pundits and people too busy to be pundits, – people like me. Of course, they’re all discussing November’s election, – pretty much what they’ve been doing for the past four years. But this year’s presidential politics has a new twist. Now they’re conversation spins on race versus age.

As one who likes to consider how many years I have ahead rather than behind, I’d like to think that age is irrelevant. And if not irrelevant, at least manageable, thanks to physical therapists, opticians, podiatrists, beauticians, skin care companies, and their health-care compatriots. So when my eyes inevitably catch a glimpse of my image in the mirror, I just mutter TV Laura Petrie’s response to her mirror, “Snow White lives.” and get back to life, just as she did. John McCain probably does the same.

I wonder what Barak Obama says to his mirror? I wonder why media folk refer to him as black when his mother was white. My beloved dog is half Labrador retriever, half German shepherd. I don’t call him a lab. I call him a mix, and vets tell me how much healthier mixes usually are.

These idiosyncratic American political spins are making me dizzy. A little unbalanced, now I’m looking at two chocolate bars and wondering, “Does race matter?” I’m reading a cake recipe that I think my daughter, Lauren, would enjoy for her ninth birthday. It’s for a chocolate cake with coconut and whipped cream icing. Lauren loves chocolate, coconut, and whipped cream. (So do I.) The recipe is from the cookbook The White Gull Inn: More Favorite Recipes From Our Kitchen. The White Gull Inn is a renowned gourmet restaurant in Door County, Wisconsin. Stories of its other-worldly meals spread from the U.P. to Iowa. Even Chicagoans know to visit the White Gull Inn when they trek to Door County. So I’m absolutely confident that any White Gull Inn cake is to die for, especially a chocolate one.

But here’s the quandary. The recipe is White Chocolate Coconut Cake. And Lauren and I don’t like white chocolate; we’re prejudiced in this way. In fact, my snacking chocolate is 85% cocoa. So if I substitute dark chocolate for white chocolate will the cake still reach White Gull Inn standards? 

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