America’s Favorite Cookie Goes French

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

Bookended by two halves, the middle a sugary spread that, when you twist the halves apart, clings to one or the other or, sometimes, both. Voilà: America’s favorite cookie.

And also a sentiment I can relate to. These days I feel like I’m cleaving in two.

To clarify: I bought a ticket to Toulouse in September and here I am, back in France. I’m living with a Monsieur, mucking through murky waters of language acquisition, and totally indulging in wonders of French pâtisserie, bread, and the like. I’ve done a bit of baking myself between finding some semblance of place, balance, routine, and purpose here. Baking, as always, satisfies that sweet tooth and makes me feel some sense of accomplishment (because I’m almost always very happy with my results). These little guys were no exception: So as you can see, they don’t really look like the Oreo’s we grew up dunking in big glasses of milk, but trust me on this one: they were even better. I had introduced my monsieur (Xavier, or Xav) to Oreo’s last spring when I was living in Montauban, and I was amazed that he’d never tasted them. You can find them in France, but they come in different packaging and there’s nowhere near as many varieties as we have back in the states. Forget Double-Stuff and Mint-Oreos and Golden Oreos and everything else. I happen to be an Oreo Fanatic. Whenever I go to Dairy Queen (often, in the summer) it’s an Oreo Blizzard, hands down. When I was a kid, I remember crunching the cookies up in a plastic bag them throwing the crumbles into our ice cream, too. Any kind of dairy product with these cookies, really, is one of the best marriages in food history. But I’m into simple sweets and nostalgia, so maybe it’s just me. In France, this is a novelty. The cookies have a different taste, but not too different.

I used some kind of French vegetable shortening instead of Crisco to make the filling. That’s why it’s an off-white color. But hey–add enough powdered sugar and you’re good to go. Here you can see them in all their glory: an American cookie made with French butter, eggs, sugars, and cocoa powder. They are basking in the light of a sunny day in Toulouse (rare in November).

I munch them in the apartment next to the radiator and look outside into the grey drizzle. I’m here with a cooking project in mind, French to improve, and a relationship & a city to explore. It’s not for long. I have a return ticket to Minnesota next month. Already, time is a speeding train, and I’m staring at two countries, two languages, two cultures–feeling torn. At the age of 25, I’m at a strange point, as I keep telling people. These are strange, strange days for me. It’s like I’m reassessing the version of myself I’d been building all these years, wondering if I really know myself that well.

“I am infinitely strange to myself,” John Fowles wrote. So right now I’m an American Cookie in France. Mysterious and double-sided.

And undecided.

But fully satiated and loving the butter, so all is well and relatively close to what I’m used to.


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