The Funeral Cookie Challenge
This post is dedicated to Mary, a great cook and baker.
In my large Italian family, the death of a loved one means there will be crowds gathering at the house and these people need to be fed. Italians are good at eating their way through mourning, although I view it as breaking bread to remember and celebrate those gone from the table. While visiting my Aunt Theresa once, she found out a distant family member had passed. Without any hesitation she announced, “I’ll have to bake a ham.”
My siginificant other, also Italian, lost his mother Mary recently and our house swelled with more than 50 family members for dinner following calling hours. As with my own family, his relatives and friends brought in large quantities of terrific Italian food. When it was time for dessert, things got interesting.
Three of his cousins had all made the same thing–Italian Jeanettes or Ginettes. My family calls these “oil cookies.” I have written about them previously and the recipe has proven to be one of this blog’s most visited posts.
A competitive spirit ensued and it was decided that I (being a cookie blogger) would taste (with my eyes closed) and select a “best of Ginette” from the cousin confections. Our departed Mary and many in her family are enthusiastic horse handicappers so the odds were announced on cookie trays made by Gina, “Big Ang” and “Little Ang.” Each baker introduced their cookie, explaining why their method or ingredients should move them to the top spot. Braiding the dough vs. no braid and lemon juice vs. lemon extract were just a few topics debated. Each cookie tasted terrific and, in the end, I selected the one made by “Little Ang” which resulted in boisterous cheers and jeers. We asked one of Mary’s sisters what Mary would have thought about our antics and she replied, “Mary hated these cookies.” Lots more laughter as we reminisced and celebrated the remarkable Mary.
After Mary’s funeral the following day, as we gathered to eat again, a cousin informed us that a horse had just won race 4 at Belmont Park by four and a half lengths. The horse’s name? Mary Pray For Us!
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