I Put My Faith in George Michael, But Cookies Were My Ticket to Freedom

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I was 12 when my twin brother, and I moved in with our father in Reno, Nevada. My mother had driven us across the country to see him once before. After three exhausting days on the road, where we lived off pork rinds and Snickers bars and Pepsi, she got out of her Buick to see the woman my father had abandoned her for saying hello from his balcony. We didn’t stay long.

Things were different this time. My brother and I were the only ones left; my new girlfriend had moved on. My father moved into a small, shabby house on the outskirts the city with his two mutts. Although he claimed he moved to be closer to nature, I believe it was more due to my mother’s witty remarks about his girlfriend and the fact that firefighters were required to save his apartment from being destroyed by fire.

If you don’t count the dogs, I was the only woman in our tiny home. According to the Puerto Rican bible, the majority of the cooking was done by me.

My father’s kitchen had a small refrigerator that I could use to dust the top of without getting on my tippy toes. The sink was about the size of a small salad bowl. It was next to a small drying rack where my father kept his mismatched plates and empty Imperial margarine containers he used for leftovers. There were two ovens large enough to make one pizza at a time and there were two coiled stove burners.

I had limited skills in the kitchen so my home-cooked meals were a mix of eggs cooked with hot dogs, soft-boiled, and scrambled. The eggs were then stuffed into tortillas and stirred into instant ramen, where they turned into pale yellow ribbons. All my father asked was that we allow him to have a glass of Carlo Rossi Burgundy after he returned from FedEx. He would then repeat his favorite mantras: “The prophecies about Nostradamus have been fulfilled” and “Visualize your life I didn’t really care that much about Nostradamus but I could visualize my life multiple times per day. When I was a teenager, I used to daydream about my first kiss with George Michael. I knew with all my heart that I would marry him. I had no money, but I knew I had to buy his latest solo album, Faith, to get him to walk down the aisle. It was the only way I could propose without it. I could see George looking at the Debbie Gibson and Michael Jackson cassette tapes, his lips pouting as he sang:

“When that kind of love falls apart without devotion, it takes a strong woman, baby. But I’m showing you the way. Because you shoulda bought Faith, Faith, Faith.”

If I didn’t get that album, my whole life would be derailed, I explained to my father with my hand outstretched for cash. I was greeted with a happy smile. “Mija! Money doesn’t grow in trees. Find out what people want .”

and then sell it The kids at the trailer park loved sweets. A bag of candy can cause chaos at the playground. But a brownie or cookie will make everyone happy. When I came across a recipe for peanut-butter cookies in an old newspaper, it was obvious that it could make a lot of money. My father had all the ingredients in stock, so it only required three ingredients: peanut butter, sugar and eggs.

I whipped up that first batch of dough with the kind of care reserved for disarming a bomb, pouring three quarters of a cup of sugar into a plastic measuring cup like grains of sand into an hourglass. I cracked an egg in a large bowl of metal and spent several frustrating minutes removing bits of the shell. I then added the sugar and mixed it with a spoon. The result was a viscous, grainy-looking blob. The most difficult task was scooping out a cup of Skippy. When I finished scooping out the Skippy, I felt like I was wearing peanut butter gloves.

Undeterred, I licked my fingers clean, grabbed the bowl, sat on the floor, and mixed up the mess with the fork. Amazingly, the egg jam became a caramel-colored dough. It was like witnessing a top-secret miracle.

Next, I made a single cookie from scratch and put it on the only pan my father had. It was toaster oven-sized and looked like it had been in an open street fight with a blowtorch. After rubbing off most of the numbers on the knob, I decided to place the notch just a few inches from the broil temperature. Then, I gently slid the concoction into oven and stared through the greased window at the result. It only took a few minutes for the syrupy aroma of peanut butter cookies to fill the whole trailer.

Success.

I spent three hours baking twelve cookies to show my husband how much they mean to me. As they were baking, I imagined George receiving one as we listened. When he took his first bite, his chocolaty brown eyes would widen. As he found the ring, a single tear would fall from his cheek. He’d whisper “Yes” and I would sigh, wishing he wouldn’t let us live in London.

After the cookies had cooled, I packed them into two brown paper lunch bags before heading to the playground in the middle of the trailer park. I charged quarters per cookie and they sold out quickly. I was now in business! It took me only two weeks to save the $10 that I needed to purchase the cassette that would lead me to wedded bliss.

But George shattered my hopes a few years later, when he revealed that he was gay in an interview. I was heartbroken and listened to “Freedom” again, trying to figure out how to find someone to share my life with. (Though I would no longer feel guilty about the feelings that I had for Johnny Depp. )

Since the three months that my brother and me spent in that trailer, my dad has only been to my house a few times. After he said he couldn’t pay child support, my mother flew us to Houston. He did give some good advice though: Go out and get what you want. Even if the international acclaimed rock star is not interested in you, that’s okay.

I thought I was losing out after George Michael and my father left my life. It was only in my late -30s that I realized my true love was there all along, waiting for my acknowledgment.

I lose track of the time when I’m in the kitchen. When I try a new recipe, I feel goosebumps. It still feels magical to me to create something from nothing. Cooking has given me a job, a purpose and a group of chefs who are just as passionate about the art form.

I still make peanut butter cookies the same way, with the exception of adding brown sugar to the party. Every time I make them, I smile. The moment I fell in love with cooking, mixing the dough brings back memories. George Michael and my father don’t know what’s happened.

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/george-michael-cookies, BonAppetit Read More

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