My Obsession

Although I mostly write about dinner, I have a different obsession. Cookies. Well, not exactly cookies (though I’m rarely known to pass up a chocolate chip with walnuts), I’m talking about what Europeans might call biscuits (beece-kwee).

Part 1 Le Petit Beurre
I was fortunate enough (and I mean really, really lucky) to study in France for a year in a town that had a Brun factory. Brun is a brand of cookie, kind of like our Nabisco, I suppose. And because the dollar was so incredibly high at that point, I could buy these sumptuous and delicate little cookies for about 20 cents a pack. They’re called Petit Beurre Extra. It’s the Extra that’s important; otherwise you’ll end up with something LU (French cookie company who makes those lovely little schoolboy cookies) calls “veritable,” which means “the real thing.” No, the perfect cookies, the most amazing little wafers that have the right amount of crunch and butter are the Extras. And here’s the truly sad part: I’ve never, ever seen them for sale any place but France.

Part 2 Stella D’Oro Breakfast Treat Minis
Don’t go for the regular size Breakfast Treats; they have much more crumb and are higher in saturated fats than the Minis. Look for the crunchy little Minis (of course neither Fairway nor my local Food Emporium sells them) and dip them in your coffee or tea.

Part 3 Mulino Bianco i Rigoli
These are little honey flavored cookies from Italy, and they are so amazingly perfect that I am very particular with whom I share them. They look like a big Petit Beurre, but the honey flavor gives a zing that takes it to another level. Again, what adds to their specialness is that they are so incredibly hard to find. I first had them in a little Italian food shop near Friends Seminary on East 16th Street. They had a glass canister of them on the counter and you could take a couple with your coffee to go. That place didn’t last very long because Starbucks was moving in a few doors down and part of their deal was that the little Italian competition had to go.

Now I sometimes find them at Buon Italia at Chelsea Market. I buy about 3 packages at a time, but at $4.00 a box it adds up pretty fast.

Part 4 Polaîne’s Punition
Imagine that you walk into a bakery and there in heaps and mounds on the counter are teeny little butter cookies for you to snack on while you wait your turn. They are like crunchy butter that just melts in your mouth. That’s what it’s like at Polaîne in Paris, and you can order them online (4.4 pounds of cookies that will keep for “at least a month”) for $64.10 (including tax and delivery) from www.polaine.fr I suppose that might work if you ate a lot of cookies and had a lot of money. But if I had a lot of money, I'd go get them myself in Paris.


Stand Up Dinner

I can’t really say that I made dinner tonight. The best way that I can put it is that I “opened” dinner. The Husband is at his studio, so it was just The Girl and me. We were sitting there at 6:30 going through all of the extras in her new Angelina Ballerina video (Choreograph your own dance! Find the cheese to feed the castle ghost!), and that took about all the enthusiasm I could muster.

School starts next week (and I’ll be starting a new teaching job), so these waning days of leisure and summer need to be embraced. Making dinner didn’t really seem like a priority. With nothing planned and nothing even leftover, I padded over to the pantry shelf to see what I could find. The Girl stayed glued to the opening credits, anticipating yet another viewing of the dancing mouse. I came back with a box of crackers and asked her how she felt about hummus.

She was game, so we went upstairs, peeled open the box of whole-grain crackers, sliced up some apple, opened up a tub of hummus (it still had 28 days before the expiration), and found some pickles that we got at the Farmer’s Market last Saturday. We sat at the counter and dipped crackers and such into the hummus, chatting and making jokes.

I have to admit that though the meal wasn’t much, some would call it a snack, it still gave that opportunity for connection that the meat and potato meals provide. There was actually a closeness there at the kitchen counter, taking turns dipping, comparing what tasted best, discussing the pronounciation of her name, my teaching her that there is actually a country called Djibouti (Eastern Africa, near equator).

Then I had a brainstorm of an idea: “Would you eat hummus for lunch at school?”

“I like it here, but I wouldn’t eat it for lunch,” she said.

“Is that because hummus is kind of weird and kids might make jokes about it like they did when you had tacos?”


“What if we called it ‘dip’? Would that work?” I pressed, hoping to add another possibility to the lunch list.

“We could call it ‘cracker dip,’ and it would be okay.”

"I'll put it in a little round plastic container and then you could have crackers too"

So that is how one overwhelmed mom exhaled a bit by not having to fix dinner, enjoyed herself, and added another easy solution to the lunchtime dilemma.

Not bad.