I longed to press Camembert between my tongue and the roof of my mouth, feeling it bloom as it melted, or snap a crisp Linzer cookie between my teeth, refreshed by the cool tang of the jam at the center. But I knew eating those things wouldn't help; they'd taste like garbage and just leave me feeling sick and sad. The hunger was mental, and so, to fill up, I watched The Great British Bake Off.
I'd loved the show for years. While others rolled their eyes at Sue and Mel's puns, I laughed out loud. The bakes, from the signature at the beginning of each episode to the technical challenge and the impossible-looking showstoppers, were riveting to me. "They don't win anything?" my friends would ask when I tried to describe the beautiful simplicity of watching nice people try their hardest to bake things that tasted good. It's hard to relay to those who haven't seen it that the show isn’t about winning or losing but the delight that comes from the way Mary Berry pronounces the word "layers" or the giddy joy contestants (and me by proxy) feel when Paul Hollywood offers a long-withheld handshake. "Sounds boring," my father told me when I tried to explain this to him once. But to me, The Great British Bake Off is the Platonic Ideal of television. However, before I got sick, it only inspired devotion, never the urge to test my own long-dormant baking skills.