Take, for instance, Huguenot Torte, a recipe Craig Claiborne printed in 1965 with permission from The First Ladies' Cookbook. This recipe was featured in the chapter on Mrs. Martin Van Buren - anachronistically, it turns out, since the recipe postdates President Van Buren's term by an entire century. Whatever its origins, it looks like one for the Economical Epicurean's files: a few easy steps yield a crisp crust and a custardlike filling with apples and pecans, which are likely the only ingredients you might need to go out and buy.
Fast forward to the present: Huguenot Torte 2009 is not a torte, or anything you would bake in a dish, but "Thyme-Meringue Cookies with Boozy Apple," created by a woman who wrote a book called Organic and Chic. Go figure. In my nostalgic discontentment, I created this chart to compare the two recipes:
|Recipe Name||Huguenot |
|Thyme-Meringue Cookies with Boozy Apple (2009)|
Number of words
might have to
spend (in 2009)
to have a
$30 (Maker's Mark
is an ingredient)
Number of steps
(I think this means electric mixer),
two baking sheets;
parchment paper; small, heavy-bottomed pan; food processor; standing mixer; piping bag with tip; cup for piping bag to "rest in"
Maybe you can appreciate my consternation by now? And it's not only the multitude of steps and the extensive and expensive batterie de cuisine needed to make Huguenot Torte 2009 that bring on my existential crisis. It's also the social ramifications! Let me clarify: torte is a group dessert, it's something you cut into and pass around; cookies are more often eaten alone, frequently on the fly, or sometimes while you sit at your cubicle, staring at your computer screen with dead eyes. Torte brings people together; cookies encourage isolation. And notice how these thyme-meringue-boozy cookies are piped out onto a cookie sheet: identical but spaced apart, conformist without coalescence. Cookies -- and, in particular, cupcakes, which are in essence cake for loners -- are tearing at the fabric of society!
Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I have a flair for the melodramatic and a bad case of PMS. A cookie or four will help me feel better.