Friday, April 27, 2012

Secret Family Recipe

All the brownie-lovers in the place say, “Yeah!”  
All the brownie-lovers in the place say “Hell Yeah” 
Hell Yeah!
Now somebody, anybody, every body….(I)scream!

Yes, I’ve dared to mix my love for 80’s hip hop and my eternal appreciation for fudgie desserts.  And I don't care for your eye rolls.  I did it.  It’s done.

Although I’ve had only minimal success introducing Albanian hipsters to the artistry of Run DMC, LLCool J or the Sugar Hill Gang… I have introduced my counterparts, neighbors and friends to the addictive qualities of BROWNIES.  

Note:  I have yet to discover an appropriate translation.  The best I can do is tortë me çokollatë/chocolate cake.  And let’s be perfectly clear here… there is a significant difference between chocolate cake (which is something I do not like) and brownies (in which I find the existence of God in each bite.) 

Back to the story.
I have now made three batches of brownies in Albania and each time I’ve shared with my co-workers, boss and of course the Mayor (a teacher’s pet never loses her touch.)  Much to my delight, they all enjoy the chocolate treats and shower me with compliments… that may be translated as “Wow, you MADE these!?” Or “Delicious, I want another.” Or “Oh, such a good girl” That last one may sound condescending to our American ears…but it is actually quite respectful here in Albania.  Since I’m not one to shy away from flattery…I soak up the praise like a sponge.   "Who me?  Oh, you are too kind!"  

But then the guilt begins to creep in.  After all, these accolades I am graciously accepting should actually be credited to… Mr. Duncan Hines, et al.   Po, eshte vertet/Yeah, that’s right.  My delicious, amazing, mouth-watering, perfect brownies come from a box!  From a box…uh uh, I’m not a-shamed, a box from a Kroger…I’m still getting paid! Reference to Digital Underground’s Humpty Dance. (Yes. I did it again.  It’s done. Again.)  I digress.  So the thing is, I find ways to justify the credit bestowed unto me.  
I did risk a nasty paper-cut opening the box.  
I did correctly the amount of water and oil to add to the mix.  
I did crack the two eggs flawlessly into the batter pa/without eggshells.  
I did stir the mixture until smooth-ish.  
I did pre-heat the oven and grease the pan.  
I did test for baking through with a toothpick.
Da-Yum - I’m exhausted!  Of course I deserve some credit for all my hard work!  

That is until that one troubling kerkese/request from my warm-hearted, thoughtful and appreciative co-workers is spoken aloud:  “Can you give me the recipe?”  Commence squirming.  Packaged ANYTHING is pretty rare around here.  And many Albanian women take great pride in their home-made embelsire/desserts.  
How do I begin to explain the laziness that is bred in American kitchens? (oh, not YOURS Paula Dean! Relax.)  How do I admit that I worked all of 5 minutes? 
How do I tell them the best flavors of the brownies have NOTHING to do with me?

It’s simple, I just say…”it’s a secret family recipe.”  :)  A little trick shared from "Aunt Jess."  And since my awesome vellai im i madh/big brother is the one who sent the Duncan Hines boxes… its not a TOTAL LIE!  Thank you Duncan.  Thank you Jess.  And thank you Dunny! 

Peace, Love and Licking the Spoon

PS.  Yes, theoretically, brownies from scratch CAN be made here in Albania.  But, ugh…the effort! ;)

*Coming soon: Smart Mob Post with some kick-ass Apache-inspired Jumpin On It.  

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