Recipes and Food
The Magic of a Meringue Cookie
Meringue cookies: they’re simple to make, their recipes consistently rank “easy.” Egg whites, sugar, a little flavor, and raising agent, and there you have it.
But sometimes, it’s the most simple things that bring the greatest joy, and for Daryl, these melting wisps of slightly sweet cookies, collapsible on crunch-like brittle, freeze-dried, hollow marshmallow — brought him exactly that.
He’d never had them before we went to Mexico together, and he discovered them on our last full day there. I’d wanted to stop for an espresso drink at the coffee cafe in the all-inclusive resort where we were staying. He didn’t drink coffee and didn’t feel like having a pastry, but light, nothing, air cookies? I figured they didn’t count.
On a little plate, I placed five bite-sized meringue cookies from the self-serve glass jar as I waited for my cappuccino to be made. And I could never have imagined his reaction.
His teeth sunk in to one and it crumbled. Then his eyes opened up wide, bright with wonder, like a child blowing on a dandelion for the first time.
“It’s just pleasant!” he said, through a mouth full of dissolving sugar and egg whites. A wide grin stretched across his slim face, setting it alight and glowing with innocent delight. “It just melts! And disappears!”
I laughed, his happiness contagious. In these early stages of our relationship, I’d already learned that he had an unseasoned palate, but I had no idea how simple it would be to unlock the type of enthusiasm I typically reserve for duck confit, truffle-buttered ribeye, toothsome fresh-cut pasta, hand-wrapped thick-skinned dumplings, or something equally decadent or laborious. Not being into food — being more of the fitness-minded, “eat to live” school of thought — he had no idea he was such a textural eater, or that he could derive as much pleasure from food as me, a food writer and chef’s daughter.
And yet, in this simply made bite, we both discovered that he, too, was “into food.”
He’s since moved on to trying pavlovas. He’s had them in Ireland with me and the Dominican Republic. We’ve picked up meringue cookies at Trader Joe’s and Pat’s Marketplace here at home on Long Island, New York.
He may not react exactly the same anymore, but still, whenever I see them, I’m reminded of that moment of pure, unadulterated discovery and I smile. Every time.