Truth in a Cookie

These cookies, your favorite,

are my favorite, too,

my daughters named them,

“Mommy Cookies,”

I baked these cookies for them

and for me

I baked them for events, for friends,

for moments of heartbreak

and moments of joy–

for memories.

I baked them for you.


I think of all the recipes handed down,

mother to daughter over generations,

measured by sight and feel

cooked or baked to taste,

I think of these cookies,

back in Eastern Europe–

the original version–

hard and dry,

kept in a tin,

taken out to have with tea,

but evolving over time

with new additions,

(like families)

becoming sweeter

and more nuanced,

cookies that are made


with ingredients of old world and new

bridging history in a bite,

tasting of past, present, and future–

what I see in your eyes,

the girl who was

the daughter, the mother, the grandmother,

what I see in my daughters’ eyes,

years gone, years yet to unfold,

bitter, spicy, crunchy, and sweet,

the definition of a cookie,

the measure of a life



This was a poem I wrote for my mom’s 95th birthday.  I made her some of these mandelbrot cookies as a gift.


37 thoughts on “Truth in a Cookie

  1. This was a fine and yummy tribute to one fine, sweet and strong woman, your dear Mother.
    I like how the recipe has evolved, adding “nuances.” Which is like your mother’s life, you depicted elements with two meanings, the ingredients and the metaphors they represent. Your recipe for a life well lived.

  2. Beautiful, honest. eye-watering poem. Yes, I know exactly what you mean. From mother to daughter to daughter. All the different ingredients that are added over the years that mingle in: the sweetness and the bitterness and the deep deep love. How about the recipe??? xo

  3. A yummyl tribute! Grand-daughter Jenna and I are planning a September tea party now. We won’t have mandelbrot cookies though, probably scones. Still, like you, we are are making memories with our taste buds.

  4. Loved this poem and all the memories from my own baking experiences with my mother it evoked. In our family, the cookie is a plain sugar cookie. I included the recipe in my memoir. We never let sour milk go to waste. Like your mandelbrot cookies, our sugar cookies emerged out of the old country and sustained more than the body. Now that they have nourished multiple generations here, they too evolve. Food as love and history.

    • Thank you, Shirley. I’m glad this evoked memories for you.
      To be honest, my mom did not do much baking, and this particular recipe did not come from her. I got it from another relative, and then played with it over the years. But mandelbrot is a traditional cookie–that perhaps originated in Italy (or not), and then traveled east. There are other ways of preparing food that I did get from my mom. We always cooked without recipes. 🙂

  5. Ah, I was hoping you’d share the poem you wrote for your mom! Not too sugary, but you know it was written with much consideration, love, and admiration. I sure admire those Mandelbrot cookies, too — they have somewhat of a Biscotti shape.

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