For a cake the Germans call "the king of cakes" and the Japanese call "the ultimate wedding cake," the baumkuchen doesn't really look like a cake or behave like one. But it more than makes up for its oddities with rich flavor, history and symbolism.
It resembles a hollowed cross-section of a craggy tree trunk, or a planet's rings, depending on how you make it. It can have up to 21 delicate, sugary stratums, which give it a light yet chewy texture.
Office visits are the bread and butter of many physicians' practices. Medicare pays for more than 200 million of them a year, often to deal with routine problems like colds or high blood pressure. Most require relatively modest amounts of a doctor's time or medical know-how.