January 29, 2009

Sticking to Baguettes and Obama Worship

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Last Tuesday in Paris, I was at last psyched and actually kind of proud to be an American. After spending nearly two weeks trying hard to cloak my accent and telling all the lecherous dudes that I was vacationing from South Africa because I wanted to experience the cold (and no, I’m really not interested in grabbing a cup of coffee with you), January 20th might have been the only day during my whole abroad experience that I am allowed — and almost encouraged — to speak in full-blown American English (i.e. pronouncing all of my R’s).
Let me tell you: the French really love Obama. A lot of their interest seems to come from the fact that our country was built on the economics of racism, yet we are now willing — and excited — to elect a half-African man from the Midwest. From what I understand, the French are also pumped for us because, after so many years of what they perceived as Bush’s insular, arrogant doctrine, Americans are ready to accept a new, sympathetic regime (which is incidentally headed by a black man and which, as a result, appears more racially equitable than any European government.
So I was riding this high of idealistic Obama-lovin’ until today, when one of my friends sent me an article in the NYC blog Gothamist. Apparently, a (seemingly disgruntled) baker in Greenwich Village sold “Drunken Negro Face” cookies for Inauguration Day to “honor” President Obama. He chose to toss aside the ebony-and-ivory conviviality of black-and-white cookies and hawk instead a nonsensical, Minstrel-looking cookie. Unsurprisingly, the design caused nearly all once-hungry customers to lose their appetites.
An egg-shaped cookie cloaked in milk chocolate, finished with maraschino cherry “eyes,” chocolate sprinkle hair, a disproportionately large nose and a goofy mouth so wavy a four year-old could decorate better — this cookie most likely does not scream politically correct to you.
And yet! Ted Kefalinos, proprietor of Lafayette French Pastry, the bakery at which the notorious cookies were produced, claims his cookies were innocent —and even benevolent. He says, “We were just trying to make a large number of people happy, and instead we made a large number of people confused and angry.”
Oh, really, Teddy? You are shocked that people are confused and angry when you say things like, “Would you like some drunken negro heads to go with your coffee? They’re in honor of our new president.” Oh, but saying that the mal-formed, stereotypical cookies “honor” our new president will get you out of all sorts of trouble — you’re right!
And you’re undoubtedly spreading the love by saying, “[Obama is] following in the same path of Abraham Lincoln; he will get his,” (implying of course that Obama is on a course towards assassination). Hey Ted, maybe it’s time you listened to that Black Eyed Peas hit, “Where is the Love?” and stopped trifling with your apparent theme song: Maino’s “Hi Hater.”
But to impart this article with just a little journalistic integrity, I’m trying to find some artistic merit in this dude’s cookie — especially since he has the liberty to create such a monstrosity. It’s not even like the cookie looks delicious or aesthetically pleasing, though. Frankly, I don’t like eating maraschino cherries, except when they are soaking in a Manhattan, and furthermore, the chocolate ganache for the face and features looks like it was applied with a heavy hand. Gross!
Then again, couldn’t Kefalinos be an avant-garde genius? He did, after all, cater the set of the Sex and the City movie, and that’s got to count for something, right? … Maybe not: his next plan was to make “dead goose bread” to commemorate the emergency landing in the Hudson a few weeks ago. Mmm, I could only imagine what a delicacy that would be … I love rotten goose meat chunks in my morning brioche!
Sorry America, I kind of love you these days, but for now I think I’ll stick to baguettes and Obama worship, thanks.

Read about cookies not good enough to eat:
Gothamist article