who doesn’t…?

14 09 2008

It’s early evening on a rainy Sunday and of course, the boy says he needs some chocolate chip cookies and an ounce of guilt goes a long, long way.  When I’m here, it’s good to cook or bake just to re-establish my presence.  In my house, this standard American cookie is loved by one and all.  If ten people were polled – how many do you think would say these are one of their favorites?

As standard as this cookie is – I’m always surprised by the subtle variations in the recipe from house to house.  Some are more perfectly formed.  Some softer, chewier…others crispy and oddly shaped.  But everyone seems to be reading from the back of the same package and putting things together basically in the same order.  Some stay on the cookie sheet to cool, some cool on tin foil, some on wire racks.  How hard can this be?

There have been times in my cookie baking history that I have followed the directions to the letter of the law and they have been a total flop.  Was it the oven?  Was it the flour?  Which was the evil ingredient?  Just as many times as that has happened – they have come out unbelievably delicious while maybe skimping on something that was in short supply.  Maybe its just these magical marvels.

When we lived in Spain, packages of chocolate chips would line empty crevices of any suitcase that was bound for our apartment – our own suitcases, any family members coming to visit, or any friend or acquaintance we had any remote contact with could be talked into being a mule.  We couldn’t buy them in any store.  Most wives there don’t bake things like cookies at home so it was quite the novelty for birthday parties and other social gatherings.

There would always be a critical moment when someone would turn up their nose up at one of our precious cookies.  How could they NOT like a chocolate chip cookie?  It was unheard of  – bizarre – irrational.  Then I’d get some cultural clarity and realize even these little cookies were a totally American taste…and guess what?  The rest of the world is not under obligation to like chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter or blue kool-aid for that matter no matter how much MY kids liked those things or how novel they seemed to us.

Cookie cutter people don’t exist either- nor do perfect chocolate chip cookies that are palate perfect for global consumption.  In our homes little things make us who we are – whether we are extremely active or couch potatoes, book readers or movie watchers, neat freaks or comfortably unconcerned about perfection – they are all the bits and pieces that make us who we are.  And once we’re “formed”- it doesn’t mean that we are going to be loved by everyone either – sometimes it’s an acquired taste. 

Billy always thought that chocolate chip cookies would be the perfect cookie without the chocolate chips.  “Too sweet for me,” he’d say, “too sweet for me.”