Coffee, Tea, or Martha- Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti- 45 eggs, 40 cups of sugar, 27 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 30 cups of flour used so far- 150 recipes to go!

May 14, 2010

Martha's Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti

André's Chocolate PIstachio Biscotti

You just can’t help but feel fancy when you are eating biscotti. You hug a quiet corner of a café, preferably near the natural gas fireplace. A large cup and saucer filled with frothy, foamy, steaming cappuccino rests next to your opened laptop, or even better, your leather-bound journal in which you scribble with slow, deliberate strokes. Every ounce of your being demonstrates you are a deep, brooding, college-educated philosopher. You quickly glance up to observe the room before returning to your manifesto, an indictment against corporate America, your third in a continuing series. You pause. Reaching into the small, brown paper bag, you produce a crisp, sophisticated treat to calm your tortured sense of social justice. It is not a cookie. A cookie is common. It is a term used by companies like NaBisCo, Keebler, or that corporate vixen, Little Debbie to peddle their wares. “Cookies” are sold by clerks and Right-Winged Repulicans. No. This is no cookie. It is biscotti. Italian for little biscuit. With one bite it transports its devourer to a small Tuscan village where the educated eat fresh figs, smoke clove cigarettes, and philosophize the rise and fall of man. It is not sold by acne-scarred clerks. It is artfully bagged and sold by metrosexual baristas (aka- art history majors.)

Are you throwing up yet?

Biscotti is actually a delicious and simple COOKIE. It is a terrific compliment to any coffee or tea. It’s great in the morning, during lunchtime, in the afternoon, or even with a glass of milk before beddy-bye.

Only a handful of ingredients go into your basic biscotti. Flour, eggs, sugar, butter, baking soda, and salt. Anything else you’d like to add at that point is fair game. For this particular cookie, the addition of Dutch process cocoa powder, chocolate chips and a couple cups of pistachio meat make for some dang good biscotti.

Biscotti is twice baked. That’s what  gives it its extra crunch. A mound of dough is shaped into a loaf approximately 12 X 4 inches long. It is baked at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. It is then cut with a serrated knife into one inch planks. These are baked at a slightly lower heat until crispy. You can dip them in chocolates and nuts or whatever else you feel like covering them with but I, personally, like them plain and simple.

I usually distribute cookies to friends and co-workers after baking them. I skipped doing that this time around. The recipe makes a dozen biscotti, and it seemed like a nice treat to keep around the house. I wholeheartedly recommend the next time you want to make a cookie to enjoy in the morning or as a special gift for a friend who likes coffee, take an hour out of your day and whip up a batch of biscotti. You’ll be glad you did.

Sorry about that first paragraph but I feel like writing about one of my biggest pet peeves- Pretense. Ironic that a former actor would find this quality in a human being so undesirable, I know. I think what I most dislike about those who put on airs, is that ultimately, they are selling themselves short. Each of us are interesting and complex entities. To spend all of your time managing others’ perception of who you are takes so much more energy than just being yourself. I also find it a bit cowardly. There’s a certain level of bravery to stand up and be yourself. As a gay man, I can certainly recount many instances when I hid who I was because I was scared what others might think. I can also recount when I held my own.

I was a weird kid, certainly not your typical, red-blooded, iconic, southern boy. I was scared of the world around me. I was scared of how different I was and even more scared because I couldn’t effectively disguise it. Others viewed me as a sissy, a weak little boy who cried a lot. Having taught in the public school system, I know that kids seek out weakness and tear the weak ones apart. It’s just part of playground politics. This was certainly true on the campus of  Saint Thomas More.

The only place I felt safe was around adults. While they might not protect me, I knew that no peer would attack me in their presence. Every morning before school, I would go to the library and help Mrs. Vazzio shelve books. During recess I would do the same. It was my cocoon. A place for me to safely pupate.

Mrs. Vazzio thought I was a sweet, although disturbed kid. She spoke to me, not as a student, but as a peer. For six years I shelved books in the library, rarely poking my head out beyond the book cart.

The place where I was most vulnerable was on the bus. The only adult was driving and couldn’t be bothered with what went on behind her. The bus was always a source of anxiety for me. Not a day went by when I wasn’t kicked, punched, slapped, spat or snotted on, tugged at, belittled, bruised, poked fun of, or (in one instance) stabbed.

Ironically, the most persistent perpetrators of this cruelty were not the boys, though they had their moments. Most guys perceived me as being too weak to waste their time on. That left me to the girls. Again, having taught, I know that young girls can approach cruelty with an artistry that boys could never dream of. Girls have the ability to reduce their target to an emotional puddle of hopelessness before they ever inflict physical pain, and they will inflict pain when the opportunity is right and most emotionally damaging.

Looking back on this time in my life, I have a strange sense of pride. I’m proud that as hard as they tried they couldn’t beat the “me” out of me. Of course, I didn’t know how to be anyone other than who I was at the time. I learned that trick in high school.

As an adult I feel pride in having held my ground and taking the punches for being a “weird” kid. If you hold on to “weird” long enough, it becomes unique.

I recently received an email from a former classmate from Saint Thomas More. She found me on Facebook and “friended” me from out of the blue. She reintroduced herself to me in the following way…

“Hey Andre, I know you remember me from school and I have thought about you so many times over the years. I was pretty much a bitch to you in school. You were different and I guess I took advantage of that. I always told myself, given the chance, I would go back and not do the mean things I did. The only thing I can say at this point is I am so sorry. You seem to have grown into a wonderful, successful man. I know that sorry is not enough and never will be, but it really comes from the heart. I have come to know a lot of different diverse people in my life and I am not a judgemental person. Really great to see you and for what it’s worth, please know you were a part of our lives.”

I was blown away. For thirty years this woman carried the guilt of a young girl’s cruelty. To be honest, I didn’t remember her name or her face but I knew that she must’ve ridden that bus.

I actually gasped a little reading her note. I felt a weight in my heart that I didn’t know was still there lift and float away.

So, this post is dedicated to all the “weird” kids who became unique adults. We should all get together sometime and shelve books in the local library.

As for the rest of you- Be Yourself! Some of us took a lot of punches for that right and it pisses us off when you waste your time being someone else.

Oh, and stop writing in the cafés. Very few people like to read a writer’s work, much less observe him writing it. Really, it’s like watching paint dry.

Drink coffee at home! Write in your office!  Honestly, I do my best writing in my underwear. You should try it.

Leave the poor barista alone, you never tipped him anyway. In fact, you should bake some biscotti and bring it to him as penance.

Fun Fact-  Saint Thomas More held his ground, not wavering from his personal convictions and beliefs in the presence of his king. He was beheaded. Ironic, huh?


5 Responses to “Coffee, Tea, or Martha- Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti- 45 eggs, 40 cups of sugar, 27 3/4 sticks of Butter, and 30 cups of flour used so far- 150 recipes to go!”

  1. NispIrriple Says:

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  2. Carole Landry Says:

    Wow! Reading your blog today was like time-travel for me. My first job as a librarian was at St. John HS in Plaquemine. Because it took me 16 years to earn my MLS (part-time student and full-time mom/cub scout leader/etc.)I was unaware of the phenomena of the lost and lonely library lads. It continued at Scotlandville HS (then a feeder school to Angola prison) and even more so at Scotlandville Magnet Engineering School. To help accomodate the overflow of Dungeons and Dragons players we formed a before school club and I got them access to an empty classroom. Some of the other boys I recruited to be sci-fi book reviewers. I told them I didn’t particularly enjoy the genre and they were voracious readers who took the job so seriously…pointing out words or plot lines that might be construed as controversial. We formed the first ever SciFi HS convention and invited other HSers from the parish. It was a smashing success. They were so proud. We had field trips to Sci-Fi movies and other cons. Generally they were a clumsy, socially inept, rag-tag group of boys and I loved them all.
    Who knew FB could be therapudic?
    tThey were voracious readers and took that job so seriously

  3. Nicole dubroc Says:

    The legacy at St. Thomas More continues- let me remind you of your nephew who is fighting his way through the torment there on a daily basis- I do not let him ride the bus- by the way- Mrs. duplecian calls him”Dubroc”

  4. Alyse Says:

    Does coach Sue Silvester on glee remind u of mrs. Duplechin? I think she has a touch of the devil in her.

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