• Mani-Jade Garcia

"The Best Damn Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies" by Fooduzzi


When I thought about trust—this time—I tried to think beyond:


“trust is a gift, a gift that can be

taken back any time.”


I have said that a lot. But not this time. Because, just like that, it stopped making sense to me. And that new feeling, that I wasn’t making sense, is really strong now. It’s as strong as the comfort that saying those words, to myself and others, used to bring me. (How strange it is to change one’s mind.)


I don’t think I have ever taken a gift back. Even from someone who hurt or betrayed me. Even when we both knew the relationship couldn't be salvaged. But I have stopped trusting them. I had to, even when it was hard. And sometimes — often, really — it took a lot of hurt to wake me to my senses, to relinquish trust. So, I was wrong about trust.


I am more and more okay with having been wrong. That said, I am left quite unsettled now—unsettled with a freshly re-opened question:


“what, then, is trust?”


I don’t know where to even begin seeking the answer to that question. Almost immediately rethinking what I just wrote, I’m remembering that I have been reading a lot about stillness lately. «The answer is in the stillness,» is whispered to me, from somewhere. 'Through some dark ethereal door, to a basement, take a left. There in a room…its waiting,' I can hear Marilyn Nelson say about how she teaches writing poetry by training aspirants to imagine stillness.


I’m kneading dough for “The Best Damn Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies” into cookie size balls and pressing them flat onto a baking pan. “These cookies won’t spread, so be sure to shape them how you want them to look.” I have gotten around that part of the recipe somewhat by substituting molasses for maple syrup. The cookies stick together better that way too. Putting them in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking them makes me feel like some kind of chemist. I can’t be sure that I create joy with my confections. For sure, though, I create a moment of deliciousness. Stillness echoes from a place deeper than I have sensed before when I think of that. “Maybe I’m a chemist of deliciousness,” I think to myself with a smile. It’s the kind of smile that doesn’t need answers.


When I open the freezer door, I realize that years ago it was stillness that found me — me, in a basement room —and not the other way around. I was 16 when I tried my first “Cheesecake Supreme,” from my mom's simply titled book, “Cooking with Cheese.” I bought a copy for myself online recently for $4.00.


Stillness was there in the lemon zest and butter crust I love to this day. That smell! I pressed it onto the bottom and sides of a springform pan to create a container. I filled it with the sacred batter. And I baked what ended up looking like what I used to imagine Jerusalem looked like, perched on its mountain after Solomon built the first temple; or what Paris looked like when it still resembled a mysterious island stronghold.


In stillness I mixed, pressed, poured, and baked my invisibility into deliciousness. Something tangible people could enjoy. When I sold my creations at "Emmanuel's Fine Foods," the family restaurant named after me, I shared something of me with those people, almost secretly. I didn’t have to know them or like them to share that stillness with them. They didn’t even have to know I was the creator. It was almost better that I remained invisible. That way I could witness them chew on stillness, with no interruptions.


Caco had already been in prison two years by that time. Murder! That word never loses its shock value when it’s so close to home. I wish I had been surprised when he landed back in prision after his first warning sentence of a year. As a brother some may expect me to have been surprised. But as his brother I wasn’t. I couldn't be. I knew too much. And the body keeps score. I was just deeply sad. Surprises do not save from sadness—nor does the lack of them.


The cookies are out of the oven now and cooling on a rack. It’s a small batch, a treat I learned to make while caring for someone I am still not ready to write about—as she withered from me slowly. The stillness called me to these cookies, from the kitchen where it always paces patiently in wait.


Once I gave some extra cookies that I made to Molly, my first interpreting mentor. It was right before she told me she had cancer. I hadn’t seen her in years and that is what she whispered to me—like an old friend. I thought about meeting her when I was 19, just two years after the restaurant had failed. I had wanted to give her something for a long time, to thank her for the years of love. She said these cookies were the first thing she had eaten in a while and not felt sick. All we could muster in that moment was to chew on stillness.


I trust my hands, in a bowl of carefully chosen ingredients, joined together with love—into deliciousness. Like that first time, with the cheesecake. It had to be delicious. I knew! It is something beyond the dizzy of words, that knowledge.


"So maybe that is what trust is: stillness, beyond the dizzy of words," I think to myself with a smile. It’s the kind of smile that doesn’t need answers.



Poetry by e(m)g. Written on the printed recipe for The Best Damn Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies by Fooduzzi on October 16, 2021.


Image below description: A deep white bowl is filled with blending coconut oil, molasses, homemade vanilla extract, and 3 balls of fresh homemade almond-cashew butter that resemble scoops of ice cream.

Image description: A deep white bowl is filled with blending coconut oil, molasses, homemade vanilla extract, and 3 balls of fresh homemade almond-cashew butter that resemble scoops of ice cream.

Image below description: A printed recipe for "The Best Damn Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chunk Cookies" by Fooduzzi with the poem above handwritten on it.




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