Last weekend I decided to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and work outside in the garden. Tom did not decide to accompany me. He told me he had things he wanted to accomplish inside. That did not surprise me, and I didn’t really think much of it. After about an hour, our “cool” temperatures started feeling hot to me and I had had enough digging and weeding for one day. When I came into the house I was surprised to see Tom standing in the kitchen measuring flour. “What are you doing?” I said. “Nothing”, he replied. “Are you making bread? Can I help?” I asked. “No”, was his response. Then I saw him start to measure out sugar. Sugar? Tom was making something sweet. I was truly puzzled, but decided to respect his decision to exclude me from whatever he was doing.

So I washed up and went into the sun room where I could hear Tom working, but couldn’t see what he was up to. I did conspiratorially exchange a couple of texts with Ray.

Shortly thereafter I told Tom that Ray and I both thought he should guest blog, not guess blog (damned auto correct). It was then that he invited me into the kitchen and asked me to guess what he was making. I took one look and figured out it was either a cookie or a truffle. Who are we kidding? Tom is never going to make a truffle and we’d already established he was using flour. “A cookie!” I proudly guessed. “What kind of cookie?” he asked. “A chocolate cookie!” See how sharp I am? His expression was patient, but challenging. I had noticed the smell of cinnamon earlier and thought I could smell some other spices associated with autumn… perhaps nutmeg? I wasn’t sure, but then it dawned on me. The Black Pepper cookie. The source of family discord for decades.

I’d heard about this cookie for years. It was a staple at holiday gatherings for my Italian American husband and his family throughout his childhood. He’d told me that there was this cookie that nobody liked except him. He said this as if he had a secret that nobody else was in on. He described it to me and I thought it sounded interesting at the very least. His siblings however, could not have disagreed more. So, who was right? I was about to find out. The recipe Tom used was Italian Chocolate and Black Pepper Cookies by Apartment Eats. Meanwhile the texting continued.

At approximately the same time, Tom texted both his siblings. This was Marie’s response.

By this time, the cookies were baked and Tom and I had tasted them. They were delicious! As much as we tried, we couldn’t convince Marie or Ray that these cookies were good. I even asked if they had considered that as adults with much more sophisticated palates, they might actually like them? The answer was a resounding no. These two were immovable objects.

As the week wore on, I looked forward to a cup of tea or coffee with these new cookies every day. As I ate them, I savored the complex and rich flavors and still couldn’t fathom how absolutely polarizing these cookies were. As the week wore on, I also realized that I wouldn’t have a guest blogger this week. Tom had passed, but I could still blog on the subject.

During the rapid fire exchange of opinions about the cookies, Ray had produced (with astonishing speed) the original family recipe, which did differ a bit from the recipe Tom had made. So naturally, if I was going to be the blogger, I should make the original recipe myself as a sort of compare and contrast, right? That’s exactly what I did.

How did the original recipe turn out? Well, I’ll tell you. They were terrible! They looked very similar to the cookies Tom made, but other than that, they bore no resemblance to Tom’s morsels. There was something familiar about the taste, and after a minute or two, I identified what it was. When I was a kid, I had an Easy Bake Oven. When I ran out of the cake mixes that came with the oven, I attempted to mix up some flour and sugar and bake it in my oven. I never really thought I’d taste that again, but voila! Tom tasted them also. His verdict? “These taste bad, babe.”

In this case, can both Tom and his siblings be right? What do you think? By the way, Not Guest Blogger Tom does have one last message for his siblings. “Bread soup?”

4 thoughts on “A Cookie Peppered with Controversy

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