Two Stories About Melomakarona

Monday, April 19, 2010

-It looks like this.-

-Story One-

"So, yeah, I don't think I did this right. I've Googled the image results on these and they're very different from what I'm looking at. Night and day over here."

This is the first time I would have killed for a picture along with the original recipe. I was making melomakarona, a Greek pastry that's supposedly much easier to make than it is to pronounce. I realized that something wasn't right when the cookies, though tasting amazing having been loaded with orange juice and cognac, didn't look right. They were like little shortbread coins, buttery and dense, but it seemed they wouldn't be able to hold much of the honey syrup they were to be soaked with without collapsing into mush.

The recipe came from a co-worker of mine, a Greek woman whose husband is a Greek chef (the god of barbecuing, in the Greek Pantheon). The recipe had been scribbled down for me, translated from Greek into English. It had never occurred to me that things could have been lost in translation. It was blind faith in the kitchen.

"It sounds like you overworked the dough. It should be really shaggy and kinda sticky," she said matteroffactly.

"Oookay. Yeah. I have a solid uniform ball of dough." The directions did not mention anything about overworking. Just that the flour should be slowly sifted in. "Alright, well, then they came out as little shortbread-like coins."

"Coins? That's way too small. They should be kinda cakey and maybe half the size of a twinkie."

I looked at the picture she had drawn me to illustrate the shape of the melomakarona. The were the length of my thumb and were to have ridges after being pressed against the side of a cheese grater. "Cake like? The size of twinkie? I went by your picture."

"The picture is the shape and look, not the size or texture," she replied.

"When are cookies cake-like?" I rebuffed.

"Madeleines. And melomakarona."

I sighed internally. God damn it. The instructions, once again, didn't make any note of this. "Ah well, they taste great this way. They're my fauxmelomakarona."

"That is a mouthful," she laughed.

"Yeah. Mouth full of cookies."

-Syrup or not, correct or not, these are super tasty.-

-Story Two-

Shitshitshitshitshitshitshitshit! I was barely over the speed limit!

I was losing it. Passing police officers on the road when I've done nothing wrong puts me into a full blown panic attack; post-traumatic stress due to overeager cops looking for speeders in Kern County, California. ("Over 200,000 speeding tickets cited last year!" says a billboard along the freeway. These cops have nothing else to do in the middle of nowhere.) Being pulled over nearly causes me to stroke-out and throw-up when I see those epileptic lights flash behind my car.

I rolled down my window and met the officer's face. He was wearing shades like Eric Estrada did back in the show CHiPs, and had a moustache like Tom Selleck. If I weren't terrified and pulled along the side of the road I would have assumed he was going to bust out a boom box and rip his shirt off.

Instead, I got, "License and registration?" I handed them over meekly, far too scared to speak. "Did you know you were speeding?"

I forced my voice to rise, "No. I mean, maybe? I don't think so."

"You were going 45 in a 40," he said. I could see my license reflected in his shades. I probably looked much better in that photo than I did at that moment, and that's saying something.

"Isn't that, kinda, the safe buffer-zone?"

The city is beginning to crack down on that he explained, and that the limit is technically the limit. Stupid economy encouraging cops to ticket more for breaking the speeding buffer zone.

He poked his head down. "What's that over on the other seat?" I looked over to my right where a plate of freshly made baklava and the plate of fauxmelomakarona sat.

"Oh these? They're desserts for a potluck." I looked at him and paused. It was a pause where every possible consequence and scenario that could ever happen played out in my head. "Greek baklava and melomakarona; cookies with cognac and orange."

"Never heard of them," he said.

I looked at my reflection in his shdaes and tried to see past them to meet his eyes with mine. "They're quite good." Another pause.

"Are they?"

Another pause.

"Yes. Would you like to try one?"

At this point it was a risky game. Two conversations. The one we were having about cookies, and the one we weren't having about me giving him cookies and not getting a ticket. Or, I hoped this was the case, and that I wasn't about to go to jail for bribing an officer of the law.

"Sure." I unwrapped the plate and handed him one. I thought of giving him two, but it felt too eager. He bit into it. I couldn't see his eyes and he didn't smile. His look, circa 1980, was impossible to read.

"Look," he said handing me my identification, "I'll give you a warning this time. You were only a few miles over and most people assume that's okay because for a long time it was. Don't go over anymore because the next guy won't give you a warning."

"Yes officer," I smiled.

And so I got out of a ticket with baked goods.


  1. Now that's a great Monday morning story.

  2. Lesson learned: always travel with baked goods.

  3. Faux or not, looks like the moral of that story is that bakes can save your life! :)

  4. WooHoo for you!!! Sometimes it just doesn't work out that well. Must have been kick ass
    cookies! CP

  5. Well gosh darn it, I just got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign on the way home from book club. I'd already given out all my baked goods, I must remember to have them visible and handy for if it happens again! Nice one!

  6. HAHAHAHA BRAAAAVOOOO!!!! That is an amazing story. Much better than getting out of a ticket by crying or pretending there's an emergency at the hospital

  7. I'll have to remember this. It's much more graceful than crying! I hate crying...

  8. hmmm....using cookies instead of cleavage to get out of a speeding ticket. This I must try!

  9. ... and then he ripped his shirt off and took out a boom box. Ha ha ha :) Thank heavens for baked treats!

  10. You really think it was the cookies and not the cute blonde in the drivers seat? Interesting.

  11. In my head, it's the cute blonde in the driver's seat. Seriously, I was rocking it that day with a nice shirt and the BF's dog tags. Go me!

    ...But yeah, it was totally the cookies.

  12. The book has been read and the library is closed. You work it, Garrett.

  13. This is one of the best stories I've ever heard!

  14. So, I was curious about what they looked like as well, so I googled the name Melomakarona in Google images, and there are hundreds of photos of them! Great story about the cop and baked goods though. I need to start carrying around homebaked goods with me, you know, just in case. Because, I too, believe in the 5 mph over the speed limit rule.

  15. Since you lack tits, you're going to have to carry baked goods in your car.

  16. Excellent post. Brilliant story and I'm now so intrigued to try out those Melomakarona cakey cookies!

  17. Absolutely awesome. Love it!
    So what I am to take from this is that if I plan on speeding, even slightly, I need fresh baked goodness in the passenger seat. Gottcha.

  18. Perhaps we should all always keep baked goods in the pasenger seat: to get out of tickets and to ward off road rage (how can you be angry with the smell of baked goods wafting over you??).

    And, despite them not turning out correctly, these cookies sound fabulous.

  19. Great story! Next time you try to make melomakarona, use this trick (after you get the recipe right!): put the cookies into the fridge for a good long time to get them *very* cold. Get the syrup *very* hot. Then when you put the cookies into the syrup, they'll absorb some syrup, but not as much as if they were room temperature. I think this is key to making them sweet without cloying. That was the way my giagia (grandmother in Greek) did them... Good luck!

  20. After spending a perfectly horrible (hospital) week, thank you for this great stories and a good laugh. Always take your cookies with you!
    Found two different recipes in Greek Cookerybooks for the honeymacaroons, Xmas trads in Greece, so if you want them to compare (different booze inside) just let me know and I'll post them

  21. Garrett, you make me so proud sometimes. Bribing a cop with cognac cookies. That's just a beautiful thing.


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