Julia Alvarez’s Bad Ginger Cookies

‘After Mom’s death,’ author Julia Alvarez writes, ‘we found a box of ginger cookies in her freezer. I parceled them out, having one a week to make them last. Each time I took a bite and that spicy tingling filled my mouth, I thought of how – along with all other losses that came with losing Mom – I would soon be losing the taste of her ginger cookies.’

Alvarez is the National Medal of Arts winning author of novels like How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, Saving The World, Return to Sender, poems, childrens’ picture books and non-fiction works including Once Upon A Quinceañera: Coming of Age in the USA.

Since her mother passed, Alvarez and her husband have been trying to recreate her mother’s ginger cookies. They are sharing their best efforts in The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook. ‘Each time we taste our latest version, we sadly shake our heads. Not quite as good as Mom’s bad ginger cookies. But we’re almost there.’


In the Sweets section, you’ll also find Mrs. Iskian’s Cheesecake from author Daniel Mueenuddin, Tempted by the Fruit Mango-Blueberry Pie from Manil Suri, Male Gaze Macarons from ceramicist Jessica Stoller and conceptual artist Tavares Strachan’s Sunday Dinner In The Bahamas Grammy’s Coconut Pie.

Desserts are not the only recipes on offer. Joyce Carol Oates has shared a Scrambled Eggs, Onions and Smoked Salmon Recipe In Defiance Of Grief. Edwidge Danticat tells us the story behind Haitian Soup Joumou and Roz Chast has drawn up her special brand of recipes for Dinnertime.

The Artists’ and Writers’ Cookbook is charmingly illustrated by Amy Jean Porter…


As Julia Alvarez wrote in an essay: ‘The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.’  In passing on recipes that conjure warm memories, Alvarez and her fellow artists are doing just that.

Written by Elizabeth Newton

Header Photo: Paul Hanaoka


Emily Bourke


Fleming For Free @ UBC

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton