Dirty Sugar Cookies
by Ayun Halliday
I actually bought three copies of Dirty Sugar Cookies. I gave two to my sisters thinking they were getting cookbooks full of the recipes I devour along with everything else I find in the teensy-print pages of the author’s zine, East Village Inky, then went about dropping dozens of subtle hints about their need to reciprocate. That I had to break down and buy the third copy for my own self is testament to both my shitty persuasive skills and my unwavering jones for another dose of Ayun Halliday’s dead-on writing. That it’s not a cookbook gives you an idea of my irrefutable attention to detail.
Though Dirty Sugar Cookies does deliver 14 recipes — of which “Watermelon with Feta and Basil” tops my list of food to make once I can lay my hands on all three ingredients in the same week — its real value lies in the stories that lead up to each one. Halliday has a talent for sharing her memories with such candor that you feel like you should get up from the table to pour her another cup of coffee before beginning the next chapter. Make it a tequila shot — she feels like one of your sisters (probably the one that would buy you the damned book you won’t stop yakking about). Each story, from baking brownies for potential boyfriends, to eating summer camp Pop-Tarts and post-coital pancakes (not in the same summer, mind you), to discovering her Gran’s long lost recipe box, pulls you into a history that might be your own if not for the fact that these are distinctly Ayun’s. She’s not afraid to give you the good stuff straight, either.
If it’s recipes you’re after, get ye to Ayun’s food blog, dirtysugarcookies.blogspot.com. If what you crave is a big hunk of personal dirt, lovingly dished with a smattering of winces and lots of bite, get your sister to buy you Dirty Sugar Cookies. Buy it straight from Ayun and she’ll autograph it.