Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mountains, Cookies, Funerals...

See those cookies? Those are some good cookies right there... Oatmeal-y, chocolate-y, buttery little bastards. I ate about 4.

So where did I get them? It is enough to say that I aquired them, the hows and whys aren't really too important... They were made by the Bruderhof down in Rifton (Town of Esopus). The Bruderhof are a religious group originally hailing from Germany that have settled in several communities including one right here in the Hudson Valley. The delicious cookie making matter aside, if you have ever had dealings with the Bruderhof then you will know that they are generally some of the nicest people you are ever going to want to meet.

Some time ago I had the occasion (and honor) to be present for the funeral of one of the elders of the community. Every time I taste a Bruderhof cookie (probably once or twice a year) I am reminded of this event as I found it particularly moving. Have you ever been to Esopus? It is a very pretty town filled with forests, hills, and winding roads. The honored man was carried by members of his community (children singing the whole time) in plain pine through this setting to a simple clearing in the woods. His friends, family, and neighbors put him to rest right there in that honest dirt, laid down fresh pine boughs, and then took turns covering him with shovel-fulls (children singing the whole time). I don't think that I have ever seen a more simple and beautiful expression of loss and I sort of treasure the memory.

Why am I telling you all of this? I guess one of the central themes of this hack blog has always been about the power of food to conjure up deep and powerful memories and these cookies certainly do that for me.

Also, it is an example of why I love the great state of NY (most of it at least). I bet a lot of you have never even heard of the Bruderhof, Rifton, or even Esopus. We have so many treasures hidden in the nooks and crannies of our little corner of the world. There is power and mystery up on our mountains and untold glories squirreled away in our vallies. I will concede the point that it is sometimes necessary to search a little harder for the gems in Upstate NY then elsewhere, this is only part of its charm...

In any event, food, memories, blah, blah, blah... I will stop now. As I am always on about Proust and his madeleines, I will leave you with variation on the theme from a song-

Over and over again

I keep tasting that sweet madeleine

looking back at my life now and then
asking: if not later then when?

   -Pet Shop Boys, "Memory of the Future"

1 comment:

  1. You sir, are a treasure. Really, you should take all of this deep knowledge of our region's foodstuffs and write it down someplace.

    Then one day you should capriciously take it away from everyone.

    Only then to bring it back to the rejoicing masses and impress us even further with more tales of strange lands and delicious morsels that are hiding in our midst.


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