The Secret Ingredient

When I was in graduate school, there were a lot of “potluck” events where each person would bring food to share with the other people.

At the time, I didn’t know how to cook anything besides breakfast.  Needless to say, you couldn’t bring scrambled eggs or French toast to a dinner thing.  Especially if the faculty would be there.

My roommate decided it was time for me to learn to cook something.  She settled on Nestlé Toll House cookies, reasoning they were easy to prepare, appropriate for any occasion, and liked by everyone if you leave out the nuts.  This turned out to be a wise decision as the reviews were rave.

Upon starting my professional career, I found that the potluck was alive and well in the corporate world.  With new confidence in my kitchen capabilities, I signed up to make the cookies whenever a gathering required a culinary contribution.

Time and again, people would proclaim my delectable disks as the best chocolate chip cookies they had ever tasted and plead with me to share the incredible recipe.  With some embarrassment, I had to admit it was just the recipe printed on the back of the chocolate chip package.  Oddly, the tasters didn’t believe my humble confessions and accused me of guarding some trademark mix-in or method.

Anyway, one day a friend is keeping me company while I bake the golden goodies.  As she watched me add the baking soda, she exclaimed, “That’s disgusting!”  “What?” I asked with confusion, “It’s just baking soda.”

See, the only baking soda in the house was the yellow box of Arm & Hammer I kept in the refrigerator to absorb the unpleasant food odors.  It had never occurred to me to buy a separate box for baking purposes.

So, I get a fresh box of baking soda to be used exclusively for food preparation.  Suddenly, the cookie compliments cease completely.  The magic in the munchies?  Gone.

Of course, the only explanation is that my cookies did incorporate a secret ingredient.  A fusion so unconventional that no pâtissier could have possibly imagined its potency.  An essence so well hidden that even I was not aware of its presence.

Fumes of raw onion!

Mark my words, you will see this on the Top Chef.  And when you do, remember you heard it here first.

© 2013 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.

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