Here’s To You, Maria

Everyday starts with Maria. I don’t know who this breakfast broad thinks she is invading my plate uninvited every morning, but everyday without fail, she appears in her circular, buttery glory.

Who is Maria you ask? Allow me to introduce you:

Maria Cookies
Image courtesy of Google Images

Gastronomically, she is little more than refined sugar and flour, with a taste falling somewhere between a Golden Oreo and Ritz crackers. Visually, she’s a simple golden disk with a border design that approaches a description worthy of the word ornate, but doesn’t quite get there.

I occasionally ponder what the person who inspired this pedestrian pastry might look like as I hurriedly muscle down her dry, almost flavorless crumbs before class, my mind reeling with famous Marias of the world, “maybe it could be her, or her or maybe even her!” However, until recently, I have thought little more about Maria outside of those half-lucid, early-morning musings and how I associate her with how much I dislike my host mom’s mandate that I eat something before class, even though I have absolutely no desire to. I constantly feel how all dads must feel on Christmas Eve, after a night of excessive indulgence in holiday treats and eggnog, being obligated to take a few bites of the cookies left out for Papa Noel (as he is affectionately called in Spain) to prove to Junior that he did in fact squirm down the chimney and did in fact take the time to indulge in the lovely Tollhouses next to the tree.

My apathy towards Maria took a sudden turn last week, when for some reason or other I decided I really should find out who this chick is. Why does she get her own cookie? What’s her story? What’s her sign? So immediately following breakfast (if you can call a few crackers and water breakfast, it’s really more of a geriatric snack) I did what any good American citizen with a question does: I started googling.

It did not take long to find out that Maria is a big deal. And by big deal I mean an overwhelmingly large deal, as in she is one of the highest-ranking officials in the cookie/cracker world and has a reach that spans across several continents.

Maria cookies or “Marie biscuits” as they are apparently called in many other countries, were originally named for the Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia – not quite as easy on the eyes as some of the other Marias I hinted at, but she holds her own in a 19th century kind of way. According to the cookie’s own Wikipedia page, they first came into existence when a London bakery made them in 1874 to celebrate Alexandrovna’s marriage to The Duke of Edinburgh. It also turns out that the biscuits hold exceptional importance in Spain, as they were mass produced at the end of the Spanish Civil War due to an abundance of wheat, and served as a symbol of newfound prosperity as well as financial and social recovery. If my breakfast plate serves as any indication, it seems that symbol has carried over all the way to the 21st century. The treat has also leapt over countless geographic and cultural borders, and is now manufactured in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Malaysia and Pakistan to name a few of the more exotic locations. There are even entire blogs dedicated to rating the taste and quality of Marias ‘round the world – who knew.

So here’s to you, Maria. Thanks for helping me dust off my decrepit WRIT 1122/1133 research skills, helping me to learn a thing or two and for being my better half at the breakfast table.

And oh yeah, she’s a Libra.

Quincy Snowdon, DUSA Student Blogger