A Cultural Cookie: Chocolate Chip & Being American

Flickr photo by TheDeliciousLife
I was just reading a blog post on Sassy Radish and was really struck by this passage.
"To me, as I was trying to assimilate into all things American, the chocolate chip cookie was the Holy Grail of American baking. No, not just baking – America itself. It was the secret passage to everything I was trying to learn; encapsulating that elusive cool I was after."
As an American, I find it fascinating to glimpse what others see as being truly American. Being born and raised in the United States, it's hard to see it sometimes. So much is part of everyday life and taken for granted.

I noticed my Americanness much more when I visited Paris. Sometimes I notice it here when talking with people who were born in other countries. I may hear the occasional,"Oh, you are such an American!" Which sometimes comes across as being accusatory almost. Maybe I should just take it as a compliment. Or maybe I shouldn't judge it at all.

I also find it fascinating reading blogs about the American expat experience, like Tracy in Norway, Michelle in Italy, and Holly in Germany.

Growing up, my mother always baked chocolate chip cookies from scratch. One time, I must have been around eight, I contemplated running away from home. I don't know why. But I do remember my mother baking chocolate chip cookies that day and deciding that things weren't so bad and maybe I'd stick around.

I saw the photo above and was drawn not only to the cookie, but to the title: Melodramatic Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Oh, the drama of a cookie! I like that. What are your memories of chocolate chip cookies? What do you perceive as being American?

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Joy@TPMG said…
For some reason when I think of things that define us as Americans I always first think of food. Maybe because I love food. I love the simplicity of chocolate chip cookies.
Nance said…
I think the absolute best part of this post was this: I contemplated running away from home. I don't know why. But I do remember my mother baking chocolate chip cookies that day and deciding that things weren't so bad and maybe I'd stick around. As a mom myself, it made me smile...alot. What a great memory for you in so many ways.

(And chocolate chip cookies probably would have done it for me, too.)
Relyn Lawson said…
The chocolate chip is my hands down favorite cookie. My grandmother was a quadriplegic. When I was about eight she told me that if she could get up the first thing she would do would be go into that kitchen and bake me a big plateful of chocolate chip cookies. They've been my favorite ever since.
Elizabeth Patch said…
thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! I think peanut-butter cookies are somehow more American, but maybe corn-on-the-cob even more so!
So So Simple said…
Interesting we do think of American as Chocolate Chip Cookies and Milk. In NZ we have our own Choc Chip cookies which are an icon for us as well. But we call them Kiwi Crisps. God only knows why. A simple Choc Chip would have done.
Lisa Johnson said…
jlw - Thanks for the visit and the comment. I think of food too. But I can't get that old jingle out of my head, "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet." I guess whoever wrote it wasn't into cookies! ; )

nance - Glad you liked it! Chocolate chip cookies can be quite persuasive!

relyn - That is the sweetest story! Thank you for sharing it!

elizabeth patch - You're welcome and thank you for the visit here! Now you're making me think that I need to write up a list of the most American foods.

You've got something there. Learning that peanut butter was invented by George Washington Carver was one of my first memories of learning about African American inventors. And it makes me think of when I was a kid and learned that corn is also called maize, such a traditional food of the Americas.

so simple - I never heard the term Kiwi Crisps. If I ever get to NZ, I'll know what they are!
My experience of being American is quite different because I am first generation born here. I didn't grow up with chocolate chip cookies baking in the kitchen. I remember I used to go to friend's houses and their mothers would make them Kraft Mac n Cheese. I thought it must be really hard to make because we never had any at my house. When I moved out I bought some and kept looking at the box thinking something must be missing because it was not hard at all.
Lisa Johnson said…
unknown mami - Thanks for stopping by! It's interesting how how we see things as children and then have the new perspective looking back as adults. Mystery of the Kraft Mac n Cheese solved! ; )
I linked to you today.
Lisa Johnson said…
unknown mami - Thanks! Great post and I love the reuse and recycle idea! No good comment should go to waste. ; )

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