Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas Eve and Your Inner Child Wants a Cookie

You may not realize it, but there is, most likely, a time machine in your kitchen.

If you doubt this, try baking up a batch of your favorite childhood holiday cookies. We expect that you'll quickly find yourself transported.

We don't know how many (literal) years we searched for the perfect sugar cookie recipe – the ones that tasted like Oklahoma in the 1960s.* Untold hours were spent researching the finest cookbooks and cooking websites. When we finally found it, it had been under our noses all along, in a set of aging binders. “Cooking Magic: The New England Cookbook” Culinary Arts Institute, 1956. Page 57, nonetheless.

No matter how sophisticated our palettes may be as adults, there are certain tastes and smells that will always appeal to us – the treats of our childhood. These foods provide something even greater than nourishment or even pleasure. They give us the actual physical sensation of being young. For a moment, when you take that first bite and the sugar** hits your tongue, you get to feel as you once did. 

We carry with us always the memories of our childhood, as they have helped to shape who we are as adults. It is difficult, though, to recall the feeling of youth – that constant sense of excitement, wonder and hopefulness that somehow slipped away one day when we weren't looking. (If we're being perfectly honest, there was also uncertainty and fear, but of a less mature vintage than most of us have become accustomed to of late.)

The Yummish consider this a sacred act, a yearly reconciling of who you were and who you've become, through the medium of baked goods. It is a chance to embrace your past self, with all of its stupid errors, and to forgive your current self for not always living up to more youthful ideals. It is also a better-than-decent excuse to turn on the oven.

Today's exercise: Eat a cookie!

Next: Maybe another Yummish Saint. Or not. Who can concentrate on that when the house smells like cookies?

*South Florida in the 1980s is a much easier taste to capture - Oranges.

**Or salt, vinegar, pulp, crunchy carapace, etc. as best suits your Yum.

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