If you’ve read the About section of my blog, you’ll know that my first word was “cookie,” rhythmically chanted as both a celebration and a request when I was 9 months old. Somehow though, baking my own cookies hasn’t been a part of my December ritual. When I was little, spending my holidays with my extended family, it was my great Aunt Mary who made the cookies. And there were always an assortment of cookies given as gifts to my great Aunt Phil.
But this year, I craved not only the tastes of those Christmas cookies, but that connection to my past. To these tastes. And so, armed with a bottle of prosecco, a seemingly endless supply of butter and a 30 year old community cookbook from New Haven’s Wooster Square (the epicenter of Italian American culture in the city), I set about making cookies that embodied the tastes and smells of my childhood.
The recipes sometimes took deciphering (“Knead for a while”). But the deciphering was part of the great pleasure of making them. Without my grandmother, or my great Aunt Phil, or great Aunt Mary to help me learn, I worked with the women of St. Michael’s Church in New Haven- Ann Confrancesco, Margaret Ruotolo, Carmel Consiglio and Theresa Argento who, in the early 1980’s took the time to write down recipes that were second nature to them- infused with the ordinary traditions of Christmas and the tastes of family.