New Jersey Food Journal

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Cookie Better Than Grandmother's

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By Michelle Lulic

The thud of the glass jars hitting the counter suddenly overpower the soft crinkling of the plastic bags. My older sister and I quickly scamper into the kitchen to find just what we expected: the start of the holiday season. Pretty soon our home would be whirling with the aromas of butter, chocolate, peanut butter, ginger, almond, and raspberry. Each scent teasing our tastebuds with hints of what seven cookies we might place on Santa’s plate.

Every year a variety of different flavors make their way into our mixing bowl. The Scandinavian blood in our veins guides us through the recipes of seven different cookies. Just as it has guided my Norwegian ancestors after they skied home with all of their desired baking ingredients. Kitchens in my family tree have continuously given life to traditional favorites — such as the pepperkaker (the gingerbread cookie) and the kokosmackroner (coconut macaroons) — however, each kitchen has also opened its countertops to flavors we have not yet explored.

As my sister and I start sectioning off the ingredients, we aren’t surprised to see the jars of raspberry jam placed alongside the green and red food coloring and the golden bags of chocolate chips. My grandma’s rainbow cookie makes us salivate at just the mere thought.

The recipe, although accredited to my grandma, was taken from two German sisters she knew as a young girl. The three of them would play together and, one day, the two girls took my grandmother to their family’s German bakery. One bite of the baker’s rainbow cookie aroused my grandmother’s senses. She then begged the sisters to share the recipe. The girls entrusted my grandmother with the secret ingredients, thus weaving my Norwegian and Italian family with the German tradition.

For years my family has passed on the recipe from the two German sisters. But in 2011, the recipe surfaced where I least expected it. I was a freshman in college and was just about to spend my first Christmas with my current boyfriend of four years. He had insisted that his German mother made the best rainbow cookies in the world. We bickered back-and-forth as I insisted that there was no way it was better than my grandmother’s. We then placed each cookie into the center of each other’s palm. At the count of three I lifted his mom’s cookie to my lips and bit into the chocolate covering down through the moist nutty texture of its three layers. Both our eyes widened as the cookie swooshed around in our mouths. I can recognize that taste anywhere.

It remains a mystery whether our recipes came from the same German baker. Either way the cookie will always connect me to the love of my family and the love of my life. While the seven cookies chosen each year continue to cycle through, I can guarantee that one will stay on my list for generations to come: the rainbow cookie.

Michelle Lulic is a senior at Rutgers University, studying Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Theater Arts. She loves to tell stories through both writing and acting.