Rhubarb coffee cake, bran muffins, and strippers

I’ve been meaning to bake bran muffins. Not of course, because I like bran muffins but because I’ve been wanting to write about them.

That is the life of a food writer — or at least this food writer – in a nutshell.

I wanted to bake bran muffins so I could write about strip clubs. Canadian strip clubs; or, to be fair and accurate, a Canadian strip club. So after procrastinating on the bran muffins for weeks because, honestly, no one in this house really likes muffins all that much, if at all, I figured I’d bake rhubarb coffee cake that everyone in this house wanted to eat and just tell you the bran muffin story.

I suppose you could bake the batter in muffin format and have a rhubarb-moistened crumb-laden muffin (cue Betty White joke here), but for the recipe to really segue into the story, the rhubarb cake would need to somehow morph into a bran muffin, which it just isn’t going to do in my hands, so I’ll need you to forgive and indulge me.

If it weren’t for the fact that I was carried down a mountain, the most interesting thing about my last trip to Canada would have been the fact that I went to a strip club. With my cousin. And a couple of French dudes (yes, they were total dudes). And a former member of the U.S. ski team. And an amazingly tall lady from Boston.

So I went to the strip club in a small town in the middle of nowhere British Columbia. Seriously. It was half way between Vancouver and Calgary. Check out a map. Go ahead, I’ll wait. See? Middle of nowhere.

The former U.S. ski team member and the amazingly tall lady from Boston were most persuasive. Just one beer, they said. It’s too early, they cajoled. You can’t even ski tomorrow, they pointed out. Don’t you want to drown your sorrows, they asked.

So I hobbled around the corner on my bum knee, watched with awe and amazement as my cousin talked the doorman out of making us pay the cover charge (he’s a charmer, my cousin), took the beer the amazingly tall lady from Boston handed me, and looked around.

There were videos of snow-mobile jumps and tricks projected on walls and a small square stage in the corner, but no dancing and most certainly no stripping. It seemed like a regular bar, and I’m going to guess that the male-female ratio of patrons was 60-40.

After about 10 minutes someone took the mic and announced that I-couldn’t-make-out-the-name was going to take the stage. Then a glittery-bikini-clad young lady emerged from the door behind the bar and made her way through the crowd to the stage. She started her sexy dance, up and down and around the pole, taking off her bikini top at some point along the way, and the mood in the room… well, the best way to describe it is like she was the wild neighborhood girl who’d gotten drunk at the block party and started taking her clothes off and no one quite knew what to do so they pretended it wasn’t happening and tried not to stare and kept watching the snow-mobile video playing on the opposite wall. Seriously. It was all so very Canadian, in ways admirable and troubling.

Of course, for all I know she was the nice neighborhood girl and the crowd was slightly embarrassed. What I know for sure is that no one was tipping her, which seemed really out of the purpose and principle of a strip club as far as a dancer would be concerned, so my cousin took up a collection and brought it up to her.

It was all very much not what it’s like in the movies, that’s for sure.

Since I was in said small British Columbia town for several days with nothing to do but nurse my injured knee, I made some friends at the hotel and at the public pool and at the corner café. I asked about the strip club, if the vibe was always like that, if anything about the place seemed odd.

No, people said as they looked at me like I was the crazy one, it’s always like that.

In the course of my investigations I then learned this fascinating fact: the club was fined last year. They are a bar without license to serve food and it seems the strippers baked bran muffins which they held between their legs and sold onstage, so the place was fined. For serving food.

Yes, you heard me right. Not cupcakes, not even sugar-topped blueberry muffins. The strippers baked bran muffins and sold them during their show.

The strippers held a bake sale.

I can’t help but think they would have fared better if they’d baked up a heavily crumbed rhubarb coffee cake, but that’s just me.