Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, Baker man, Bake that Grasse Boulangerie Cake With Care
Grasse baker Yannick Tavolaro is enjoying an unexpected sales boom –plus waves of social media and customer support — following a recent court decision obliging him to remove chocolate cakes from a window display, in what he called an assault on freedom of expression.
For a court in Nice has ruled that his now (in)famous cake caricatures – chocolate mousse on a biscuit base covered in dark chocolate and moulded into ‘grotesque’ (in the Montaigne sense) — shapes with extravagant oversized genitalia, must no longer be displayed in his shop windows for fear of causing “racial offence”.
The court, passing judgment in a case brought by CRAN – Conseil Représentatif des Associations Noires de France, deemed the pastries were “an affront to human dignity, particularly that of African persons or persons of African descent”.
The court ruled Yannick Tavolaro must not display his cakes in the store window but he was allowed to continue baking and selling them. The court added Tavolaro had shown no malicious intent.
According to Vice News: CRAN had claimed the cakes showed “a black man and woman with oversized genitalia”, and it labelled these “obscene and offensive slave trade caricatures, steeped in the old tradition of colonial racism”.
Giving full vent to the kind of victim-hype not infrequently deployed by pressure groups with a “racist” axe to grind, CRAN (a 10-year-old, self-proclaimed ‘Representative Council of Black Associations of France’) said it had additional concerns, as the baker was also president of a local soccer league, in which many children from “diverse backgrounds” played.
CRAN’s website shows that among other activities, it is currently running a campaign seeking reparations from France for its part in the 16th century slave trade.
After the Nice court hearing CRAN president Louis George-Tin said he was ‘delighted’ with the ruling which he called a warning to the rest of France.
Food names in France as in many other European nations, have many connotations that some minority somewhere will likely find easy targets at which to take offence.
In the aftermath of the court case Nice-Matin published a list of food items certainly bound for, if not already on, the modern-day equivalent of the Pauline Index, including some local champignon or mushrooms bearing the name “cèpe tête de nègre” – black-headed cèpe:
… or the already-castigated local sugary delicacies once known as têtes de nègres – blackheads which some wag posted on the baker’s Facebook page under the caption “Can we complain too?”:
Here is Nice-Matin’s story poking fun at the hypersensitivity encouraged by Europe’s victimhood watchdogs and headlined: ” Après les pâtisseries “coloniales” de Grasse, ces dix spécialités culinaires qui ont fait polémique:”
Earlier Nice-Matin reported that — apparently dismayed by this attack on freedom of expression over some ‘harmless pastries’– customers and supporters stormed the store in solidarity to buy the offending cakes, to the evident delight of hardworking M. Tavolaro and his wife who run the family-owned bakery.
Judging from pictures and comments on the baker’s Facebook page village supporters and customers far outweigh his critics. As the baker himself noted in an interview with a local radio reporter: “I’ve been baking these cakes for more than 15 years, if they were racist, surely no one would buy them … I think that if they had been made from white chocolate, then no-one would have taken offence”.
Urged on by friends and supporters, who include black customers, M. Tavarolo told a reporter he was not letting the matter lie. Calling the decision an attack on freedom of expression — a right protected under the French constitution — the baker said his lawyer now plans to counter-sue CRAN.
According to AFP reporting April 16, France’s top administrative court has overturned the ban on the display in baker Yannick Tavolaro’s pastry shop, of the allegedly “racist” cakes shaped as naked men and women and coated in dark chocolate. The “God” and “Goddess” cakes have been on sale in the shop in the southeastern town of Grasse for about 15 years. But a self-styled anti-racism group — CRAN — slammed them as “injurious towards people of African origin…” and caused a furore by bringing a case to court. On Thursday April 16 2015, France’s State Council overturned the initial court decision leaving the bakery free to carry on its business without further let or hindrance. The baker has counterclaimed for defamation against CRAN saying the use of dark chocolate is technically necessary to model the figures, which he insists were cartoons. He further claimed his right to freedom of expression had been curtailed by CRAN.
Story: Ken Pottinger
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