The Long Way Home


Ode to the Cookie Table
December 16, 2009, 11:35 AM
Filed under: Kitchen | Tags: , , ,

“Cookies are comforting in the time of cholera.” S. Lynch

When Pittsburgh hits the national media, the email forwards from resident family and friends start rolling. And since the city has been under the country’s watchful eye since the G20, as well as a curious object of wonder across the States over our perceived immunity to the current recession, it seems only natural to examine such weird-ass Steel City customs as the wedding cookie table in today’s New York Times article.

The drawback of living in one place for most of your life is that you sometimes don’t know what is native and what is not. I thought every wedding in the country had a freaking cookie table. I knew it was a bit tacky to take home a doggie-bagful of cookies and stash it in my purse, but what the hell? The bags are usually provided for you by the wedding hosts; it gives guests the go-ahead to put etiquette aside and take home a souvenir that is much tastier than pastel mints nestled in plastic martini glasses.

When Jeff and I got married, my Italian grandmother, who is 80 this year, was too fragile to bake dozens of cookies. My sister had just gone back to work full-time and I don’t bake. That left my mother, who is a gifted baker, but hasn’t really touched an oven since 1984. But bake she did, 4 dozen wedding knots coated in orange and white frosting for our Halloween wedding.

I am sad because Carrie Pierson and I had talked about researching the history of the Pittsburgh cookie table for a future article in Table, but the NYT and Gourmet beat us to it. Maybe now the cookie table will catch on at out-of-state weddings I attend because a reception isn’t complete without lady locks, thumbprints and pizzelles crumbling at the bottom of my purse.

photograph by Stephanie Foley

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7 Comments so far
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You just gave me the best ammunition ever! I have a young friend, who is a native of Plum, who happened to marry this past year to an outsider. There was much internal strife regarding the cookie table, and she actually denied her Italian grandmother the right to bake the cookies for her wedding. She thought it was too tacky to have a cookie table at her wedding. Perish the thought! Needless to say, I have relentlessly tortured her ever since for being embarrassed about our local traditions and heritage. I nearly brought a cookie tray to her reception in protest, but didn’t want a bridezilla breakdown. This national coverage and support from Rooney descendents will only reinforce how necessary and ‘awesome-as-sh!t’ this tradition is. I hope her decision won’t curse the marriage. 🙂

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Comment by Karen

I almost ditched the cookie table myself, but more out of convenience – it is a lot of work. But now it’s expected at Pittsburgh weddings and I’m so glad that we had one! I just went to my cousin’s wedding on Saturday and Jeff (who is from New York) was hunting down the cookie table – he loves the idea. And the buffet – roast beef, pasta, cole slaw and green beans almondine. I LOVE Pittsburgh weddings!

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Comment by Lisa

Cookie Table Road Trip!

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Comment by bill

No kidding – I’m about to break into this cookie table right now!

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Comment by Lisa

i hope you had some of my baklava…I know they ain’t cookies, but they so good, it is tasty to pretend they are.

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Comment by Bill

I don’t think i had more than one cookie from our table and barely even remember eating- such a whirlwind day!
I want cookies right now!

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Comment by Jeff Schreckengost

I didn’t eat anything either, too much excitement. But I do remember feeling pressure before the wedding to have this damn cookie table. Nobody wanted to bake, but everyone wanted the cookies. Typical!

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Comment by Lisa




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