Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Audacity of the Cookie Exchange

I have thoughts about cookie exchanges. See, this is why I have a blog. I'm more of a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell person. Some people are Tellers. They give you every life detail before you’ve even gotten a chance to introduce yourself or ask for directions. I have my Teller moments. My husband contends I'm guilty of sharing my hopes and dreams with the UPS guy. I wish I were making this up. So does the UPS guy.

In a regular conversation - as opposed to a blog post - I don’t tend to tell too much unless I’m asked. Then, the flood gates open. I’ve sensed your interest and intend to cure you of it, permanently.

What I’m trying to say is that no one has ever asked my opinion on cookie exchanges and it’s burning a hole in my esophagus. Pinch protects you and me both - me from maxillofacial injury and you because you can skip this post if you like.

But about the cookies.

I attend an annual Christmas cookie exchange that I’m partly responsible for. By partly, I mean that it wasn’t my idea, only that I set the date for the group. It’s next week.

I have nothing against cookies, Christmas or otherwise. One of my life goals is to produce a French macaron that rivals that of the amazing Ladurée. I sampled macarons from Bouchon Bakery while in Napa last month. While quite good, I was surprised by their size. Thomas Keller obviously took notes from Alice Medrich regarding the enlargement of French confections. I don’t think of Keller or Medrich as part of the American supersizing problem, but the reality is that AM created the American truffle, in its gargantuan proportion, and TK’s macarons are close to four times the size of the French counterpart.

But I digress.

The point of the exchange is to expose yourself/family to different cookies than the ones in your repertoire. No point in everyone trading gingerbread men. It’s all about variety. Rugelach. Amaretti. Pfeffernussen. Biscotti. Shortbread. Linzer.

It is NOT about one-upping your friends. Indeed, the messgage, “Your sugar cookies are swell and all but my Pecan Shortbread are better,” is not at all in the spirit of Christmas.

Forrest Gump was wrong; life is like a cookie exchange. Some people will put lots of time into their cookies; some won’t. Some people will buy cookies at Safeway; some will buy them at Ladurée (I’m going to Paris for THAT cookie exchange). Some will arrive empty handed and leave laden; some will bake for days and leave the spoils for their friends. Some people won't eat a single cookie this year and others will overdo it.

We know life is too short. It's simultaneously too short not to enjoy cookies and too short to complain that our bodies look like we've eaten too many cookies. But there’s something more substantial, too. Do we have friends who will send us home with cookies when we didn’t bring any to the table? Do we have a healthy diet and body image? Do we share our lives, time and talents with others? Do we endeavor to sweeten a life besides our own?

Oh, the audacity of the cookie exchange!

Favorite cookies for the season:
Chewy Ginger Cookies
Christmas Press Cookies
Coconut Macaroons (shown above)
Cornmeal Christmas Cookies
Triple Chocolate Cookies

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