I’ve been reading a lot of Sloane Crosely lately ever since the anonymous book fairy in my building left her first book of essays in the mailbox room. (Whoever you are, I love you! If I leave a tooth or dollar under my pillow, will you leave me a copy of Miranda July’s stories?)
In “Smell This,” an essay that appeared in I Was Told There’d Be Cake, Crosely describes her efforts to bake a tart for a dinner party she was throwing for her friends. But before she got to the actual baking, she imagines what would happen if pastries could reproduce sexually:
Unless you are a professional, you will find the tart to be a high-maintenance, unforgiving whistle-blower of a pastry. If they could sprout sexual organs and mate, they’d go extinct on the jungle floor. Chocolate chip cookies, impossible to fuck up, would breed like deer. Tarts are the red pandas of the baking Amazon. They are all about what you’re not allowed to do. The crust alone: don’t knead it too much too fast, don’t sprinkle too much water, not that much butter, cool it first, don’t cook it too long. This is a polite pastry. A civilized pastry.
First, while I adore this passage in particular and the book as a whole, it is possible to fuck up chocolate chip cookies. Screwed up versions of this dessert abound–they’re simply called “crunchy.” Personally, I think that crunchy cookies are blasphemous and a waste of butter and chips. The only kind I bake and will accept are the chewy ones.
As for tarts–I’ve never tried to make one so I will just have to trust Crosley’s assertions of their fussiness. From her description, the tart sounds like a lady–so we’re talking lights off, missionary style sex. The tart is a prudish bitch.