Peel Me A Cookie, Martha!- Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies – 85 eggs, 65 1/4 cups of sugar, 65 sticks of Butter, and 77 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 126 recipes to go!

August 9, 2010

Martha's Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

André's Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Well, folks, here’s the answer to that age-old conundrum that has plagued man since the beginning of time. What do I do with all these black bananas?

The age-old answer has always been, Make Banana Bread. But thanks to Martha, we now have choices! We can now throw off the shackles of Banana Breadery and seek a new frontier in the kitchen- Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

Essentially these cookies are made of your run-of-the-mill banana bread batter, but they are baked into cookie form by dropping tablespoons of the mixture onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. But, hey, they’re yummy and even though they’re a little floppy, you now have a cookie option for bananas past their prime.

My first name is André. My last name is Dubroc which I started to spell “du Broc” back in the late 80s because of a misprint in a theatre program. People saw the exotic spelling and wanted to chat with me after the show about my origins and genealogy. This was a good tactic, although a bit pretentious, to entice and intrigue possible influential people towards shaping my career. In all honesty, my family name, being French, would’ve been spelled that way many years ago. “Broc” is the French word for basin. My last name literally translates to “of the basin.”  It’s common in French surnames to either describe the person, the profession, or the geography of the family. Here are some examples:

Blanche du Bois = “Blanch of the woods”

Étienne Boulanger = “Stephen the Baker”

Marc LeMoine = “Mark the Monk”

Pierre LeFévre = “Peter the Blacksmith”

Simone Léglise = “Simone from by the church”

I love my name. It’s always a great conversation starter especially for people who’ve never met me face-to-face. One specific instance was back in college in Saint Louis.  A local dinner theatre was enjoying a successful run of the musical “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” The show consists of a series of songs by the early 20th century composer, Fats Waller. Four talented and versatile singers perform the exuberant score accompanied by a single pianist who represents the incomparable Fats. The accompanist for this particular production had taken ill and could not play the Friday night, sold-out performance. In a panic, the artistic director called around to the various colleges looking for a capable and available pianist to play the show that evening. My piano instructor passed my name on to the director who immediately called me in a panic and offered me $500 to play this one show. After my last afternoon class, I hopped into my car and zoomed down to the river and the tiny showboat dinner theatre to begin learning the score for that evening’s performance. When I arrived the director looked at me in disbelief.

“You’re White!?” – he shouted and rolled his eyes. He had assumed that I was African American because my name was André and I was from Louisiana. I assumed that he knew I was white. I have been plagued with white guilt my entire life but this is the first time that guilt was from by inability to be black.

The director handed me the score, pointed me to the piano and told me to practice with the music director who was chuckling from the piano bench at our awkward exchange. Before scurrying off the director made the audacious request to reduce my fee to $400 since I wasn’t black. I shot him a look and he nervously shook his head and walked away. An hour or so later the cast trickled in to run through their songs with me, the new white Fats Waller. I furiously took notes in pencil to make sure I could follow their carefully nuanced interpretations of Waller’s music. they were all very nice and supportive although very jokey about the fact that I was neither black or (at the time) fat.

“He’s more Skinny Lily than Fats Waller!”- they laughed.

An hour before show time the director grabbed be by the hand and led me up to the costume shop where they fitted me in a fat suit, over-sized pants, shirt, and overcoat. They put gloves on my hands with the fingers cut off.

“Are you f**cking kidding me?! I cant play a goddamn piano with gloves!”- Instead they grabbed a deep shaded powder and applied it to my hands. They moved towards my face and I halted them in their tracks.

“You are NOT putting me in black face!  No way!  I’ll walk out of here right now!”

One of the cast members had overheard this from the hallway and came running in.

“What the hell?!” – she shouted and called for the other cast members. Each one protested loudly that if I stepped onto that stage with one inch of brown paint on my face they would refuse to go on. The director gave up and walked out of the room. I grabbed a large Fedora off the rack which concealed my face adequately. The light board operator adjusted levels around the piano so the audience could never get a good look at me.

The show went great. I flubbed a few times, but hey, it was my first time performing in the dark, covered in warm wool, pretending to be African American, and playing music I had only laid eyes on hours earlier. In my opinion I was freaking brilliant.

During curtain call the cast acknowledge me by pointing to me. I raised one hand for a brief moment with my back to the audience, played the last few chords in the score and ran off the stage covered in sweat. Looking back at the piano, the keys were covered in dark chocolaty puddles from the sweat and makeup pouring off my hands.

I collected a check that evening for $400. That sonofabitch cheated me out of $100 for no reason other than I wasn’t African American.

I thought this sort of thing only happened in the NBA.

One Response to “Peel Me A Cookie, Martha!- Banana-Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies – 85 eggs, 65 1/4 cups of sugar, 65 sticks of Butter, and 77 1/2 cups of flour used so far- 126 recipes to go!”

  1. Russ Says:

    Probably one of your best stories. And the last line is priceless!

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