Knisley writes about the convenience of baking chocolate chip cookies. “To me, assembling and combining chocolate chip cookie ingredients is like watching ‘The Sound of Music,'” she says. Her recipe is comfortably familiar to anyone who’s ever baked chocolate chip cookies, though she adds a cup of coconut flakes, which I recommend topping up if you love coconut as much as I do.
As my boys and I snack on our cookies, I’ll tell them how all-American the chocolate chip cookie is, having been created by accident in the 1930s by Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. She added broken pieces of a chocolate bar into her cookie dough, mistakenly assuming they would melt. We would laugh while applauding his delicious mistake.
A Nigerian dessert of Long Throat Memoirs
Then we would delve into the next item on the board: Yemisí Aríbisálà newsprint-scented pepper sprouts Memoirs of Longthroat: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds, a recent discovery that I can’t wait to add to my program. In his memoir, Aríbisálà memorably presents the complexity of Nigerian cuisine to the world. “Delicious as a tangible piece of food sanctioned by the senses, traveling on the pink carpet in the gut, it is also a multi-faceted cultural treasure full of intriguing stories,” she wrote, after saying that the cuisine of his country had long awaited his turn in the global spotlight.
Aríbisálà describes puff pastries as “fried, sweet, bad things” served as a snack on the way to work. She encourages “a pinch of dried Cameroonian pepper” in the batter for a surprise kick of spiciness, but for this dessert platter, we’ll have them sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
I would prepare the traditional treat the Nigerian way by fishing the puffs “out of the oil and [putting] right on the front page of today’s newspaper,” which Aríbisálà says is the standard way for Nigerians to buy their puff-puffs from street vendors on busy working mornings. “[They] are not croquembouches, not beignets, and even if they were, even if you could buy them as street food in another country, you would not find the necessary punctuation of the flavor of old newsprint”, she writes. As we ate delicious bites of fried dough and licked grains of cinnamon and granulated sugar off our fingers, I would ask my boys if they could taste the subtle touch of Los Angeles Time outside puffs.
A French dessert When French women cook
Finally, we would conclude by tasting the last dessert on our platter: Macarons Aux Pignons from the memories of Madeleine Kamman When French women cook: a gastronomic memoir with more than 250 recipes. Another recent addition to my reading list, Kamman’s book recounts her culinary education at the hands of eight French women, all from different parts of the country. In her introduction, Kamman says her book is an attempt to bring to life the early 1960s France she left behind and longed for, a place she says no longer exists. “Where are you, my France, where the women cooked, where the stars of the kitchen did not go to men eager for publicity but to women with worn hands soiled by peeled vegetables, dried up by the work of the house, the garden or fields, wrinkled with age and live. Where are you?” she writes.
Kamman’s macaron recipe nods to tradition but has adapted to the times. She writes: “This is a modernized recipe. Years ago, almonds were pounded with the sugar for at least two hours – or so it seemed to my young arms. So, as my sons and I enjoyed every bite of these cookies, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, I’d be sure to point out that the marzipan that served as the main event of the cookie and is a favorite ingredient in our household was much harder to acquire.
After tasting a delicious dessert from each of their heritages, my sons and I would definitely want a second helping, so we’d give the platter one more spin. We would start over with Tung’s ginger flan, enjoying each other’s company as we devoured every spoonful of custard and pondered the pleasure of having so many cultures to make our own.