I’ve eaten many varieties of cookie but none stirs my heart and soul as much as the chocolate chip cookie. That’s because this was the cookie that started it all — the cookie that taught me an important lesson about using the right ingredients — even if the amount seem insignificant. Above all, it was the cookie that set the foundation for my love of baking.
I still remember the day I discovered this wonderful creation and how amazed I was by it. I was in 6th grade and was my next-door neighbor’s official baby-sitter. When I showed up at her door that day, I was met with a delicious and wonderful odor. It was a smell completely foreign to me. And then Tina greeted me with a plate of chocolate chip cookies — fresh out of the oven.
At the time, I didn’t know what they were. I had only been living in the United States for about a year therefore, a lot of things were still unknown and very strange to me. When I took that first bite, I was hooked. The cookie was warm and the chocolate… oh my goodness… those amazing gooey chocolate morsels… pushed my taste buds into overdrive. I was familiar with chocolate but it was a luxury item for me. In Taiwan, chocolate was a very rare treat because it was expensive — an equivalent of five U.S. dollars for a Hershey’s chocolate bar and this was in the 70’s. Needless to say, when Tina showed me the Nestle Toll House chocolate chips package; my belief at the time that all Americans were super rich was confirmed. It was a stereotype image I was bombarded with while living in Taiwan. Of course, I later learned about the delusion of the stereotype — but that’s another story.
After devouring about half a dozen cookies, I wanted to learn how to make them. Tina gave me a pack of the chocolate chips and told me to follow the recipe direction on the back. She assured me the cookies were easy to make. Excitedly, I went home with visions of chocolate chip cookies and the enjoyment my family would have eating them.
The next day, I took out the package and read the recipe on the back. As I read the ingredients list, there were a couple of items I was unfamiliar with and didn’t have; baking soda and vanilla extract. I had no idea what these ingredients were and I didn’t even know how to pronounce vanilla extract. Since Tina wasn’t home, I couldn’t ask her. And my sisters and brother didn’t know either. Oh well… I thought… and made the cookies without the two ingredients. My reasoning — it couldn’t have been important since the recipe asked for such small amount. Well, I learned the small amount was indeed very important when I took out of the oven; a tray of cookies that looked like lumps of brown poop — as my brother had commented. The cookies tasted terrible. They were hard and lumpy. Instead of the enjoyment I had envisioned; I was told not to make any more cookies. With tears in my eyes, I threw all the brown poop lumps into the garbage.
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