Things Straight Guy Hates Immediately: Frou Frou Cookie Edition

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Gay Guy,

Did you catch the Washington Post earlier this week when they dedicated the entire Food section to holiday cookie recipes? (link here)

You know I'm a loyal Post reader. You think I'd fully support a focus on holiday treats. But as I read through, I started to wonder, "What the hell are they thinking?" The paper has acknowledged (or at least their ombudsman regularly has) that they have a perception problem... that they are seen (like a few other high-profile papers) as elitist and out of touch with middle America. This disconnect goes beyond a simple liberal/conservative communications gap. As I'll prove, the gap runs all the way to baked goods.

You may be wondering what this has to do with cookies. How could they get that wrong? Well here's a partial list of the featured recipes:

• Pistachio and Cardamom Cookies
• Spicy Cheddar Thumbprints
• Orange Peel and Rosemary Scented Butter Cookies
• Lemon Yogurt Drop Cookies
• Three Pepper Spice Cookies
• Honey Toasted Pine Nut and Pumpkin Seed Bars
• Haute-meal Cookies
• Walnut Fig Sandwiches
• Sesame Halvah Cookies
• White Chocolate Cherry and Pistachio Chunkies

Well, la di da. Let's bring down the linen napkins and fine china and pour some Earl Grey before we dig in. Wait, children, where are you going?

Now I have no problem with any one of these recipes. I'll happily try them all. But the effect is cumulative. And the absences are shamefully obvious. Really? Nothing about straight-up sugar cookies? Nothing shaped like Santa and frosted? No M&Ms, Hershey Kisses, or peanut butter cups? No sprinkles, jimmies, or red hots?

And they include pistachios... twice! Even the chocolate chip cookies get Euro-fied with the addition of Nutella!

Hey, that last one sounds really good. But whatup WaPo? I hate to break it to you, but the inclusion of a single recipe for Honey Nut Cheerio Bars won't give you any low-brow credibility. Where are the Double Butter Peanut Butter Bombs? Snickerdoodles? Chocolate Crinkles? Whoopie Pies? Hermits? Rugalach?

I could go on and on, but The Joy of Baking site does it much better. They have some savory and experimental options (Pistachio Shortbread or Biscotti, anyone?), but are focused mostly on the tried and tested core, and they aren't afraid to use Rice Krispies or M&Ms when called for. Where I come from, we still call that "from scratch."

I'm a liberal at heart, but I guess I'll have to look elsewhere for "fair and balanced" coverage of cookies. Who else do we know?

Martha Stewart is America's premiere cookie maker and general elitist. One of my favorite moments from a holiday special was many years back when she hosted Miss Piggy into her gingerbread workshop. Martha started to go on about how they melt rock candy with jeweler's torches to make tiny custom strained glass windows. "Uhhhh-Huhhhh" said Piggy as she gave a knowing look to the camera and then turned back to Martha and said, "How much free time do you HAVE, lady!"

That's exactly what the food editors at the Post need. A celebrity expert to let them know that things have gotten too indulgent and out of control. Send Cookie Monster to the WP test kitchen and watch as he turns his nose up at Fruitcake Nuggets and Egg Nogg Bars, and eventually leaves hungry and sad. "Why you make cookies stinky and weird? Why cookie makers? Why!?"

Gay Guy, I complete this post wondering if you had the opposite take (inspired by the recipes not angered by them). Can cookies like these can be used to more formally define the gay/straight divide? Offer someone an Almond Cherry Wink Cookie and see what happens...

--Straight Guy

P.S. Readers, GG and I attended a potluck party yesterday. His macaroons were a huge hit with the crowd. I'll confirm that they were definitely good eats and they presented very well, too. Nothing frou frou about the 10 or 12 that I gobbled down, beer in hand.


Brutalism said...

Awww...three pepper spice cookies just like mom used to make...

GayGuy - I'm not sure I trust straight guy's assessment. Please send some of your macaroons to me STAT for further evaluation.

Dorn said...

OK, first, your take is spot on here. WP, drop the crap...unless you're going to whip these up and send them my way. I'll gladly indulge in elitist confections. But SG, what are Jimmies, Hermits and Rugalach? Or chocolate crinkles for that matter? My two year old calls sprinkles crinkles.

Straight in Upstate said...

I think cookies are a nurture issue. GG is GG and owns an urban zip code and all that goes with, but when he comes back to his hometown I guarantee he'll be diving into his mother's cookies, recipes she learned from her women's circle in the 1960s, and washing them down with Folger's. I don't think we even get the WaPo up here.

Straight Guy said...

Brutalism - i know that there weren't any left form the party, but just push the "guilt" button once more and he'll whip up a new batch, special.

Dorn - Like I said, it's not each cookie that's the problem. It's the collection and apparent ignorance about what most folks want out of a christmas cookie. Some of this might be regional
Jimmie: a kind of chocolate or rainbow sprinkle for cookies but also for coating soft serve ice cream
Hermits:little brownsugar, cinnamon, butter, and raisin clumps. Shapeless but tatsty. Sometime they have coffee baked in
Rugalach:a sugar nut crescent roll that I think is Jewish in origin
Chocolate Crinkle: A blob of double chocolate cookie dough that cracks as it cooks.

Upstate - butter and sugar need no translation. My problem with the Post is that the vast majority of folks here want the 1960s butter and sugar based cookies, too. We are NOT better than that. And are not ashamed to say so.

Climb2Nowhere said...

Chocolate chip cookies always make everyone happy. Low or high brow! I'm hungry now...happy holidays!

Gay Guy said...

SG, "Have an Almond Cherry Wink, handsome man," sounds like the pick up line of the season. I should try it out. Thanks for the script.

I straddle the frou frou coolies divide, with the majority of my tastes on the "What mom makes" side.

The WashPo recipes --and some of them do sound good-- are good for filler, good for sharpening up the palate But, you need the basics as an anchor.

I don't bake a lot: I love to bake, but it already takes all the gym time I can muster to stay in my current shape, let alone get svelte. So, when I get around to baking, I need the tried-and-true. Which, as SIU says, means the standards that mom perfected: chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, brownies. Sure, add some contrast to the plate with WashPo pistachio cardamon shortbread, but there is no fear that I will ever break up with Betty Crocker.

In addition to reliability, I reach back to those familiar recipes for the childhood memories, the sense of security and simplicity.

Dorn, chocolate crinkles are a chocolate batter; you refrigerate the dough to stiffen it, then roll it into balls then roll then roll the balls in confectioners sugar. When the cookies bake, then take on a half dome shape with an almost meringue exterior with a smooth texture which contrasts with a more cakey interior. Wonderful. Don't skip the refrigeration step, else you will get something delicious but that looks like a cow patty.

So, a long way to say that if "cookies make the man" and his sexual orientation, I am pretty straight.

Tinkerschnitzel said...

I'm in the midst of baking cookies for gifts, and I don't think I'd include any of these in there. Maybe I'd try one or two for a party, but they just don't sound like standard fare.

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