Much to the sorrow of my extended family of in-laws, I have never embraced ‘the Italian’ with the same level of passion. It’s not the food of my childhood, so it doesn’t set loose a flood of Proustian associations, the way it apparently does for them. But although I can’t enter into their tradition, I can understand it – I am a person, after all, who attempts to incorporate at least one visit to a particular North End pizzeria into my every trip to Boston.
So I’m willing to be supportive of the food obsessions of others. A few weeks before we moved to Australia the first time (ie in 2008), the three of us spent a week at the beach in Maine, about 30 minutes south of Portland. I knew there’d be at least one trip into town, timed so that we could not only buy Italians for on-the-spot consumption, but purchase a stash to bring back to Boston for DP and assorted siblings and parents. It was on this trip that I discovered, on my umpteenth trip, that Italians weren’t the only specialty available: there were also locally made whoopie pies for sale.
Whoopie pies are a Maine specialty (although whether they originated there or in Pennsylvania is a source of ongoing debate). They are a sandwich cookie, traditionally made with two cakey, chocolatey cookies stuck together with a creamy frosting. Imagine what an Oreo wants to be when it grows up and you’re probably not far off.
These whoopie pies were huge, gooey, and delicious. Miss B (then age 4), who remained dubious about the virtues of the Italian (despite an enthusiastic sales pitch from her father), latched on to these right away, and we shared several over the course of the week. She was quite downcast to leave them behind, knowing that they were unlikely to be readily available in Australia (or Boston, for that matter), and I promised her that I would figure out how to make them.
It’s only taken me four and a half years, but I’ve finally kept my promise.