I may be in love with Thomas Keller. And I say that without ever having eaten at French Laundry or Per Se. In fact, my first encounter with the wonder that is Mr. Keller was entirely conceptual, when Adam Sandler was making a sandwich in the movie Spanglish. He sliced it in half and a river of egg yolk gushed out between 2 slices of rustic bread and enveloped bacon, lettuce and tomato in a puddle of marigold glory. After Googling “Spanglish sandwich,” I discovered that this mind-blowing concoction was the genius of Thomas Keller, and that since, that sandwich has been dubbed (arguably) “The World’s Greatest Sandwich.”
But I digress. This post is about a cookie. Now, I’m not going to trivialize all of this “I love TK” talk with esoteric foodie babble and over-inflated claims of superior taste and texture. In fact, I can easily say that I’ve had better cookies. But, what I love about this one, this reinterpretation of the classic Nutter Butter, is that it represents the ideal answer to that oftentimes regretful question: what do you want to be when you grow up?
You look at this cookie and you know Thomas Keller the Kid loved his junk food. And you know he still does because he feels the need to recreate them, as if some alternate is going to do anything other than just taste like another (albeit more “quality”) version of a perfectly delicious original. But, it does manage to do something more – it transports, it reminds, it makes people feel warm and fuzzy and childish and indulgent – and under the prestigious halo of the Thomas Keller brand, it even manages to put “Nabisco” and “luxury” into the same thought.
It’s a creative soul who loves something, anything, to the point where (s)he wants to express that passion in some alternate form that will validate the feeling even further. The lucky ones figure out how to do it and make a living out of it – and this is what I imagine Thomas Keller has done with his whimsical reinterpretations of humble, nostalgic sweets (Nutter Butter, Oreo, Ho-ho). So TK gets to do a little happy dance for being a Kitchen Wizard, and the rest of us get to say, “ooh, remember Nutter Butter? They were soooo good, I want to try this because I loved Nutter Butter and this is called Nutter Butter except it’s by TK not Nabisco so it’s probably better.”
Maybe I’m getting overly-sentimental about all of this because I’m at a crossroads in my life (like all the other 20-something-year-old’s out there) where I’m trying to figure out just what the hell I should be doing that will get me as close as possible to the answer I used to give to that question when I was a kid… whatever that answer was. Meanwhile, Thomas Keller gets to say that he perfects cookies, one-up’s corporate biscuit giants, creates and casts sandwiches in Hollywood movies, chills in Napa and gets people to pay him large sums of money to surrender themselves to his culinary vision. Lucky son of a bitch.