Forgive me for the spelling. This cookie has very special meaning for me. I made it over Christmas, but it is not a Christmas cookie. It is a memory. This cookie honors my Grandmother and all of the ways she taught me to love people from various backgrounds through her own friendships with many people–including the Syrian family who owned a restaurant in Pittsburgh. The family bought from our store so we ate there now and then–without my father, because he did not like lamb–their specialty. After dinner, my mother would go to the counter to pay and my grandma would chat with the owner’s mother, another grandma. I was, of course, fascinated by the cookies in the counter display by the register. (The restaurant served triple duty as a Middle eastern Pastry shop and tea parlor). The other Grandma would always offer me a cookie–to take home because I never had room for dessert after the wonderful lamb (my favorite meat) dinners. Grandma’s friend told me the name of each cookie. I knew the baclava and liked it, but the powdered sugar of the mamool always drew me. I never learned the code–the design on the top tells you if they are date filled or walnut filled or something else, but I was never disappointed since I love all of those things.
I bought a mold in Pittsburgh’s Stripp District (fruits and veggies and ethnic markets) for “date” mamool. I transgressed the code and filled mine with dates and nuts. The recipe was something else. I looked up recipes online ( I made some years ago but they had too much rosewater in them and I didn’t like them). My Syrian friend Muna contributed her recipe and I followed it with a few slight alterations. But with the mold, my friend Muna’s encouragement, and the thought of my Grandma close in my heart–even though I appeared to be alone, I enjoyed the company of my dear departed, my friend so far away, and the knowledge that my daughter would love these since they are full of sugar. Women laughing–past , present, future. Friends. Loved ones.
So, share with me now, the pictorial saga of my cookie making venture that stretched across cultures and across time to bring something sweet into the world. If only people’s thoughts could be as good.