I hate soup and I blame Edwidge. When I was 5 my parents hosted a French student from Barnard who babysat for my sister and me in exchange for room and board. Edwidge hated me, because I was five and had opinions, and loved my sister because she was two and had none.
One afternoon she took us to play with the charges of a classmate of hers who was living under similar circumstances. After playing with the two creepy kids we were given lunch and a bowl of brown gruel was set in front of me. “No thank you. May I have a sandwich?” I asked. “NON!” she said and began to shove enormous spoonfuls of the smelly slop into my mouth. I will never forget the feeling of metal hitting the back of my teeth as I choked the soup down. “Please sir may I have no more?”
This experience would fall under the ‘bad food memory’ category. One that leaves you so permanently scarred that you can simply never go back. Everyone has their list of “no way will I ever ingest that again.” So, to paraphrase the Soup Nazi, no soup for me!
My list would also include; Gin (a night in college of which I have no memory involving the bottle of Beefeater my father brought me on Parents’ Weekend)
and Shrimp Scampi (food poisoning in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. The good news? I lost five pounds. The bad news? I lost three days of vacation.)
But the soup thing is the most inconvenient since almost every holiday involves soup and I just sit there like an idiot while everyone is slurping happily around me. Years ago I had a completely mediocre date with a very boring guy. When he called me to ask me out again (I was shocked) I was sick with the flu. Upon hearing my hacking cough and Harvey Fierstein voice he said, in a really annoying sing song-y voice, “Am I going to have to bring you some chicken soup?”
For some, this would have been the beginning of a beautiful relationship. For me? “Next!”
But for every bad food memory there are 100’s of wonderful ones. The almond crescent cookies my childhood neighbor made, chocolate leaves at the house of an old family friend, the marzipan torte with apricot sauce at a birthday party 30 years ago and the Snowballs made by the mother of a close friend.
I’d recently become obsessed with these Snowballs--buttery cookies covered in powdered sugar with a Hershey’s Kiss waiting to surprise you inside. Maybe because being back in contact with the friend who introduced me to her mother’s famous treats sent me on a walk down memory lane. I knew the closely guarded family recipe would not be shared with me, although believe me I tried. So, time to attempt a re-creation!
No matter how hard I tried I could not get the cookies to retain the spherical quality I so dearly remembered. I was about to toss in my powdered sugar covered apron but, then I thought, that’s okay. They taste great and using dark chocolate kisses rather than the achingly sweet milk chocolate variety was a little bit of sophistication. So, maybe memories should stay in the past and the present should be devoted to making new ones.
New Food Memory Snowball Cookies
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2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
30-40 Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Kisses, unwrapped (12 ounce bag will be plenty)
Powdered sugar (@ 1 cup or enough to fill a small bowl)
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
In bowl of electric mixer combine butter and granulated sugar until fluffy using paddle attachment.
Add vanilla and mix until combined.
On very slow speed (so you don’t have a dust cloud) gradually add flour until fully combined. Dough will be stiff.
Using a spoon, or tablespoon sized ice cream scoop, place tablespoon of dough on top of chocolate kiss and press it down to cover entire kiss.
Roll dough covered kiss into balls and place on cookie sheets.
Chill for ½ hour.
Bake 10-15 minutes until pale golden.
Cool completely and roll cookies in powdered sugar.
Yield: @40 cookies.