When is a cookie more than just a cookie?
In Jeff Gundy’s chewy list poem, we are invited to look at ourselves and ponder questions about life and faith. Despite our fortunes and failings, and the many labels we might use to separate ourselves from others, we are beloved by a benevolent being who delights in us all just as we find joy and grace through him.
THE COOKIE POEM
by Jeff Gundy
“Here are my sad cookies.”
The sad cookies. The once and future cookies.
The broken sweet cookies. The cookies
of heartbreaking beauty. The stony cookies
of Palestine. The gummy and delicious
olive and honey cookie. The pasty
damp cookie trapped in the child’s hand.
Sad cookies, weird cookies, slippery
and dangerous cookies. Brilliant helpless
soiled and torn cookies, feverish and sweaty
cookies. Sullen cookies, sassy cookies,
the cookies of tantrum and the cookie of joy
and the sweet dark cookie of peace.
The faithful cookie of Rotterdam. The wild-eyed
cookie of Muenster. The salty Atlantic cookie.
Cookies in black coats, in coveralls,
in business suits, cookies in bonnets
and coverings and heels, cookies scratching
their heads and their bellies, cookies utterly
and shamelessly naked before the beloved.
Cookies of the Amish division, cookies
of the Wahlerhof, cookies of Zurich and
Strassburg and Volhynia and Chortitza,
Nairobi Djakarta Winnipeg Goshen.
Cookies who hand their children off
to strangers, who admonish their sons
to remember the Lord’s Prayer, cookies
who say all right, baptize my children
and then sneak back to the hidden church anyway.
Cookies who cave in utterly. Cookies
who die with their boots on. Cookies
with fists, and with contusions.
The black hearted cookie. The cookie with issues.
Hard cookies, hot cookies, compassionate
conservative cookies, cookies we loathe
and love, cookies lost, fallen, stolen,
crushed, abandoned, shunned. Weary
and heroic cookies, scathingly noted cookies,
flawed cookies who did their best.
Single cookies, queer cookies, cookies of color,
homeless cookie families sleeping in the car,
obsolete cookies broken down on the information
highway. Sad cookies, silent cookies,
loud cookies, loved cookies, your cookies,
my cookies our cookies, all cookies
God’s cookies, strange sweet hapless cookies
marked each one by the Imago Dei,
oh the Father the Son the Mother the Daughter
and the Holy Ghost all love cookies,
love all cookies, God’s mouth is full
of cookies, God chews and swallows and flings
hands wide in joy, the crumbs fly
everywhere, oh God loves us all.
* * *
What a compelling catalog of humankind!
I like how this poem surprised me, how the seemingly light-hearted connotation of “cookies” was juxtaposed with more serious subjects. The title assured me it was safe to enter the poem, and as I read along, I became more and more intrigued by where those cookies would take me next.
I’ve always associated cookies with innocence and comfort. Here, they become a kind of common currency that unites us all as we consider the prosaic alongside the profound. We are recognized as individuals, yet reminded of our collective worth. We are asked to consider other perspectives, other groups, other ways of being — a good foundation for promoting mutual understanding.
What do you make of the Cookie Monster image at the end? I can see how that might be a subject of controversy. Though I don’t fully understand all the religious references in the poem (Gundy is a Mennonite poet), I like the idea of a generous, playful deity who loves us to bits.
* * *
THE SWEET DARK COOKIE OF PEACE
I saw myself many times in the poem, perhaps most notably as one of those “flawed cookies who did their best.” Yet what I craved most was “the sweet dark cookie of peace.” We need these now more than ever, don’t you think?
I first encountered this recipe for World Peace Cookies a few years ago in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets, where they are called Korova Cookies. The recipe (which Dorie credits to master pastry chef Pierre Hermé), is now widely available online, touted as the serious chocolate lover’s cookie, the one holiday cookie everyone will remember, and according to Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman, “the best chocolate cookie I’ve eaten in my entire life.”
When I first read “The Cookie Poem,” I actually wondered whether Gundy had these particular cookies in mind, but it’s unlikely, since Rhapsody with Dark Matter predates Paris Sweets by two years. I’d rather think that this sinfully rich double chocolate chip cookie evolved through divine intervention — that one fine day Chef Hermé simply channeled the world’s desire to eradicate sadness and turmoil with a life-altering hit of butter, fleur de sel, cocoa and bittersweet chocolate bits. 🙂
As the story goes, Dorie’s neighbor Richard Gold renamed them “World Peace Cookies,” since he was convinced a daily dose was all that was needed to ensure planetary peace and happiness. After tasting these babies, I have to agree.
A cookie to change the world? Why not? I’ve always thought that if poets and bakers were in charge, we’d all be better off — bake-offs instead of wars, knead instead of greed, marathon readings of obtuse, didactic poetry instead of physical punishment. 😀
World peace will take some work, but these cookies are easy to make. You do need to refrigerate the dough before baking, so plan accordingly. Enjoy these rich, midnight dark, peace ensuring slice-and-bake cookies with their heavenly note of saltiness, a chocolate lover’s dream come true. There’s no better way to sin.
☮ WORLD PEACE COOKIES ☮
- 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
1. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together.
2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.
3. Turn off the mixer. Pour in the dry ingredients, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
4. Turn the dough onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)
Getting Ready to Bake
5. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
6. Using a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.
7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.
* * *
Tara Smith (beautiful talented teacher cookie) is hosting the Roundup at A Teaching Life. Float on over there (she won’t mind your cookie breath) and check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week.
Love and Peace Be with You, Friends.
your humble servant cookie, the cookie who blogs,
the abecedarian cookie, the mostly silent cookie,
Colin Firth’s secret cookie, the cookie who must feed, brush,
and entertain Mr. Cornelius, the cookie who knows
you are smart and good looking, the honest cookie,
the hard-staring cookie, the Crawley cookie,
the poetry-loving cookie, the cuckoo cookie . . . 😀
What kind of cookie are you?
Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.