I’ll Have A Fuzzy Martha!- Fresh-Peach Drop Cookies- 82 eggs, 63 3/4 cups of sugar, 61 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 69 cups of flour used so far- 128 recipes to go!

August 1, 2010


Martha's Fresh-Peach Drop Cookies

André's Fresh-Peach Drop Cookies

Well, it’s Summer and I found myself with a surplus of fresh peaches sitting on my kitchen counter attracting those little flies that peaches seem to bring with them everywhere. Luckily Martha had a recipe that would reduce the number of peaches crowding my counter by two. Much like the recipes for Madeleines, Martha’s recipe for Fresh-Peach Drop Cookies is a simple cake-like batter. Unlike Madeleines, these cookies are not baked in small molds, but rather are simply dropped one tablespoon at a time onto a cookie sheet. The end result is a cookie which is really more cake. They’re like little peach-filled floppy disks. Peach jam, or in my case, apricot preserves are added to the batter to enhance the flavor of the small chunks of peaches in every bite. A cinnamon and sanding sugar mixture is sprinkled on top of each cookie before baking to add an extra layer of flavor and interest.

I shared these cookies with one of my co-workers and the people in his office. He had generously contributed to my AIDS Walk fund- the event that initiated this cookie-baking madness- and so I wanted to do something nice for him. A couple of his co-workers stopped me in the halls to let me know how much they loved them. They said they had never experienced a cookie quite like it. They weren’t expecting it to be quite so cake-like but were thrilled with the surprisingly juicy morsels of peach and the complexity of flavors.

Since the Fall of 2003, peaches have always made me think of my friend, Peggy. Six of my friends and I had formed a new theatre company in New Orleans called Krewe des Sept Productions. We were in our first year and had been working tirelessly to put together a schedule of shows  to generate an audience and a point of view for our company. I had contacted my friend, Peggy who lived in Seattle. Peggy is one of the funniest women I have ever known- and I have known a lot of really funny women. We had met at a booze and drug-filled New Year’s party in Indianapolis in 2002. Peggy stood at five feet and five inches and weighed-in at around six-hundred-and-fifty pounds.

She had written a show called, Fat Girl Follies- a one-and-a-half woman show and was eager to have it performed. It was basically a memoir made up of little vignettes and songs about her experience as a morbidly obese person and her day-to-day struggles with self-image and weight loss. She had sent me the script and I thought it was hysterical but also quite sad. It told the story of a woman who had grown up fat with the unfortunate name, Peggy Platt (rhymes with Piggy Fat). She spoke of failed attempted romances and a botched gastro-surgery. It had some really funny lines, too. Some of my favorites were:

“I don’t believe in bulimia. It just strikes me as a terrible waste of food.”

“They call themselves chubby-chasers, like we’re hard to catch.”

…and…

“In this house we don’t say ‘Gahhhh’ because it means ‘God’ and He knows what you mean!”

I booked a performance space, hired a crew, and purchased round-trip airline tickets (two seats, mind you) for Peggy to join us in New Orleans to do her thing.

Peggy would be staying with me and my roommates, Tony and Andrea, who were a married interracial couple and two of the seven friends who formed our company. I told Peggy we lived on the second floor. She huffed and told me she’d be okay. Living with Peggy for a month-and-a-half proved to have its challenges. When I picked her up from the airport my car tilted at a severe angle as she plopped down in the passenger seat.

“Oh, I thought you’d have one of those big Southern cars you see on TV.” -she joked.

Driving down the interstate, I had to keep a firm grasp on the steering wheel as Peggy’s weight was causing the alignment of my car to aggressively list to the right. Once we arrived at the apartment, I unloaded her luggage and brought it up the stairs. Peggy slowly approached the steps and leaned her body over the edge of one of the handrails. Grasping the balustrades of the stairs above her, she yanked herself up one step at a time sliding her upper body over the handrail, huffing under the strain with each step ascended. It took her ten minutes to arrive at the top. She never complained, though.

At the first of four run-throughs we had scheduled before opening it became apparent to everyone that Peggy did not have her script memorized. We were all very worried that she would not be ready for opening night and that we had made a terrible mistake in spending so much money getting her from Seattle to the Big Easy. Back at home, I was shocked to see Peggy had somehow collected takeout/delivery menus from every restaurant in the neighborhood. Having lived on and off in New Orleans through the years, it had never occurred to me to order delivery. Part of the charm of New Orleans’ cuisine is the quaint and decaying dining venues, the courtyards featuring fountains and wrought iron fences, gas lamps and bug-zappers,  brick patios and towering banana trees. Peggy could not walk more than twenty feet at a time without the need to sit down and take a breather. Instead, she would stay in the comfort of our air conditioned kitchen and devour  sixty-dollars’ worth of pasta delivered from the small Italian eatery on the corner. I began to understand how Peggy found herself dangerously overweight. She was essentially an unhappy person who ate when she was unhappy thus making her want to eat more which made her even more unhappy. It was an endless and seemingly hopeless cycle and my heart broke for her.

After a shaky opening with her calling for lines from the light-board operator followed by a few more days of equally shaky performances, Peggy found her groove with the show, but the audiences weren’t coming. Peggy couldn’t do much publicity because of her immobility and her fear of the camera.

“I can’t do it, André. The camera adds ten pounds, you know.”- she’d say with a smirk.

I’d just shake my head and try to think of other ways to generate a buzz about the show and get butts in the seats.

When Peggy wasn’t eating, in the bathroom, or doing her show, she was sleeping. Peggy would sleep for about ten to twelve hours a day. Not only was she exhausted from carrying around what amounts to the weight of another three or four people heaped on her tiny frame, she was in a deep and profound depression. It was during one of her prolonged naps on a warm Southern Louisiana November afternoon, my roommate, Tony came home and flopped down on the couch. He immediately popped back up. I could see a splotch on his face, although I couldn’t quite tell what it was. He, quickly realized what was smeared to the side of his face and immediately ran to the bathroom to wash up while holing back from vomiting.

Standard toilets are not made to accommodate people of Peggy’s size. In addition, the awkward physics involved in maneuvering the vast geography of Peggy’s anatomy,  required  great effort to complete basic hygienic functions. More effort than Peggy was willing or able to exert. This resulted in random patches of fecal matter deposited about the apartment. Someone had to point this out to Peggy as being unacceptable and, as she was my friend, that responsibility fell squarely on my shoulders.

I had finally convinced Peggy to make an appearance to plug the show on a local morning talk show and decided to have a chat with her about her little “gifts”  on the ride back from the interview. It was early in the morning and getting her up and out of the apartment with little to no time to spare proved to be quite a chore. Once in the car I sped us to the broadcast station. Looking over at Peggy  I noticed a large dark mass affixed to the side of her light skirt. In the speed of getting out of the apartment, Peggy had overlooked her morning ablutions. I pulled over to the side of the road to call and cancel our interview. I then broke down and sobbed. I was so tired, angry, frustrated, hurt, and concerned. I told Peggy that I felt it was a mistake to have her come out to do her show. I told her she had arrived unprepared for a successful run. I told her she had left her literal crap all over our apartment. I told her I thought she was going to die very soon if she didn’t get help. I told her I didn’t want to lose her as a friend but I didn’t know what else to do, I had made every effort and concession to ensure she had a pleasant stay and a successful run but she sabotaged me at every turn.

Peggy’s face went red. Tears poured down her face but she never cried.

“Now, you know. You know what it’s like to live like this. Not being able to control yourself. Not being able to go out in public. Yes. I am going to die. Let me. It’s my choice. I can’t even clean myself, for chrissake. I’m a pig. Let me go. I’m sorry. I’m sorry!” – she yelled with a strained and angry voice.

Emotionally spent, I turned the car around and headed back to the apartment. As I pulled up to park, Peggy reach over and gently took my hand.

“I don’t want to die. No. Not really. You know what I really want to do? I want to die a little bit and then start over again. Start over in a thinner body. But that’s not going to happen, is it?  I’m sorry. Truly, I’m very sorry.”- she whispered sincerely, her lips trembling.

While in town, Peggy had picked up an acting gig with another company’s production of The Vagina Monologues.  She thought her being cast was ironic because she hadn’t seen hers in almost a decade. This meant that Peggy would be staying with us for a couple of more weeks and would be paying us a small stipend for putting up with her. This also included helping prepare Thanksgiving dinner.

Peggy prided herself on her cooking skills and she wasn’t half-bad. She made the usual turkey, stuffing and various potato and bean casseroles. It was all quite traditional. She had also concocted a mushroom pesto from some “special” mushrooms she had brought from Seattle with her. These proved to be, much to her disappointment, just regular dried mushrooms with no hallucinogenic effects.  Tony and Andrea provided a store-bought dessert- Peach Pie.

“Peach Pie!” – Peggy exclaimed. “I LOVE Peach Pie!”

For some reason this made me laugh one of those laughs that can’t be controlled. I turned beet-red and gasped for air between tear-filled chuckles.  It was an infectious hilarity and Tony and Andrea soon joined in. Peggy began to chortle, too. Pretty soon we were all practically rolling on the floor in hysterics. Maybe there was something to those mushrooms after all. As the jocularity began to wane and we began to regain our composure, Peggy put her arm around Tony and said,

“Hey dude, sorry about getting you shit-faced.”

And we all fell to floor in hysterics once again.

NOTE: Peggy has since had a successful gastro-bypass surgery and has lost over 350 pounds. She currently lives in Seattle with her first and only serious boyfriend and is one of the most sought-out actors/comedians in the area. Go Peggy!

Advertisements

2 Responses to “I’ll Have A Fuzzy Martha!- Fresh-Peach Drop Cookies- 82 eggs, 63 3/4 cups of sugar, 61 1/2 sticks of Butter, and 69 cups of flour used so far- 128 recipes to go!”

  1. Russ Says:

    Good for her! But this story completely took away my appetite for cookies or anything else for at least the next twelve hours.

  2. Tommy Salami Says:

    I’m so very glad this story has a happy ending and that Peggy is clawing her way out of enormity. I used to weigh about half a Peggy, before I lost 120 pounds through diet and hard work, and there was a time when I too was horribly depressed at what I’d done to myself, and saw no escape. I never shit on a couch, though.

    Thanks for yet another great story.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: