Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baking Birthday Cookies

So today's my birthday and it's a national holiday in Italy: the Immacolata. I love the idea of never having to report to work on my birthday. (Of course this is one of the main reasons I decided to settle here, right?)

When I lived in the US as a child, my birthday was one of the most stressful days of the year. Not only did I have to attend school, but I also had to do homework, go to church to please my grandmother who was a devout Irish Catholic (where holy days require going to Mass) and have a birthday party, at least with family. I would end up exhausted from it all!

Fast forward. Now I am an adult and live in a country that is officially Catholic so the holy day dedicated to the Virgin Mary means: NO SCHOOL OR WORK.

Although it's raining and generally pretty miserable today, on this particular December 8th, I have decided to cheer myself up with a session of cooking chocolate chip cookies. I haven't eaten them in over 2 years. I'll use the chips brought by an American friend during her last trip to visit me. I will gorge on the cookies when they are baked today. Then I will take the rest to work tomorrow for my belated birthday celebration with colleagues.

In this country, as the "birthday girl", I have to offer something to others. It's basically the reverse of American tradition where everyone is supposed to do nice things for you. In this Italian case, I will bring cookies and a bottle of prosecco to open at the 11 o'clock school-day break. This is the tradition where I work. Either something sweet (pastries) or salty (pizzette, tramezzini) or both are offered and a brindisi is made together at that early hour.

I like to have the Italian colleagues taste American flavors. One year I took brownies, for example. Another year I took zucchini bread, flavored with cinnamon, an uncommon spice in Italian desserts.

No cake. Yes, cookies. Happy Birthday to me!

Cookies baked:


  1. Happy belated birthday to you Irene :) The cookies look fantastic!

  2. They were enjoyed by many! Thank you


    P.S. My favorite false friend is parente.

    Of course, I'm sure there's more since my italian is still cattivo.