The cookies—neatly frosted half black, half white—came in a brushed metal tin stamped with the Dean & Deluca logo. They were thick, dollar-coin-sized versions of the normally super-sized, cakelike black and white cookies that, as a New York City-area kid, had long been my go-to comfort food. Rugelach and macaroons rated high too, but I’m sure Jewish kids from the Los Angeles area remember them fondly as well. Montrealers too. And all of America owns chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. Black and whites belong to NYC, and I was in need of of as much comfort as I could get.
After opening the tin that came with the day’s mail, I cried. I was weeks into a new role: breast cancer patient, 43 years old and just 11 months into my life in Alaska—which I’d finally moved to after falling in love with it a decade earlier on an expiring frequent flyer miles-motivated trip. My new home city, Anchorage, is 4431 driving miles away from NYC’s delis, bagel bakeries, and bodegas. This was the cookie version of my friend coming over to sit with me, to just listen.