July 27, 2015
Here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we have a quaint nuptial tradition. Our weddings boast a cookie table overflowing with homemade confections. Family members pull out favorite recipes, sift the best ingredients together, and pour love and devotion for the happy couple and their guests into beautiful treats. Sometimes, a friendly rivalry arises among the baking team, fueled by proclamations like, “My gingersnaps are the best ever,” or “wait until you see my perfect apricot pinwheels.” Some anxious bakers even hover near the table during the festivities to keep tabs of whose delicacies were quickest consumed.
Recently, my cousin married. This dynamic young woman pulled out all stops to create a magical evening of celebration. She rented the entire Heinz History Center as the venue. Individualized touches, including postcards from places she and her groom visited, revealed their adventures. Detailed attention and excellent service made everyone feel pampered. The ceremony and reception left me excited for the beginning of their married life.
After she sent her “Save the date” card, my cousin contacted me. “Will you please bake cookies for my wedding reception?” I felt honored. I accepted, but then I worried. Would my homey recipes and limited culinary skills provide elegant enough results for such a chic occasion? My go-to for weddings is Linzer Hearts, but I knew my budget would not allow purchasing the imported English Walnuts required to make the dough. I found a way to adapt the recipe with different ingredients but feared the heavier result. I decided to add vanilla meringues to my offerings. I asked the kids to help. Sarah read the ingredients. Alexis helped me pipe the swirls of sweetened, whipped egg whites. We baked and packaged, praying the cookies would add to the ambiance and enjoyment of this special beginning.
At the reception, the children danced, unrestricted despite their finery. Latte the service dog joined Sarah for a rousing hop around the floor. I strolled passed the cookie table and noticed the elegant offerings. Flaky lady fingers and creamy fudge, perfumed pizzelles with floral patterns, and crisp chocolate smothered toffees sat atop platters. The hearts and meringues we delivered rubbed sugared elbows with their more posh cousin cookies. So many lovely baked goods clustered as a testament to tradition, wishing well the happy couple and all in attendance at the joyous occasion.
I watched the dog hop along with Sarah. Alexis, elegant in impossibly high heels, appeared older than her fifteen years. Dylan sipped a frothy coffee drink from a cut-crystal mug. Matthew climbed aboard a trolley car display popular with the younger guests. Elderly great aunts conversed with fresh-faced graduates. Everyone sparkled in their best clothes, lending formality to the festivities. Some outfits boasted diamond accessories, while others displayed simple jewelry. Up-dos, braids, and manicured coiffures. Young and old, hobnobbing despite economic and age differences, unified in their love for the happy couple.
My attention returned to the cookie table with its varied styles of confections. How like the assembled guests, all unique and with their own special taste! The bridal couple tapped goblets and sipped champagne, and I wished them a silent congratulations on a spectacular beginning for their union.
May their every day be filled with a variety of the comfortable with the exotic, and may our offerings, be they humble or extraordinary, find suitable places on banquet tables.
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