From the Archives: The Legend of the Salty Oat Cookie

Back in 2010, I waxed poetic about the salty oat cookie at Teaism.  As the cookie continues to fascinate me, I’ve revived this post from the archives.
pic courtesy of Flickr user Becky Quan

The salty oat cookie. The cookie that launched a thousand DC recipe blogs. The cookie that evades duplication, that creates wonder in unbelievers, the once and future cookie.

I can’t remember when I first heard tell of the salty oat cookie, but the legend has stayed with me. And this is what I belive to be the truth.

Once upon a time, in Washington, DC, there was an unfulfilled government contracter. We will call her Samantha. Samantha had a penchant for baking and was always concocting new and exciting recipes. She came home one Tuesday from a long day of meetings about synergy and opportunities for growth, and decided to bake a batch of oatmeal cookies.

But just before the cookies were ready to go into the oven, her cat, Mister Whiskers, spied a yellow finch outside the window. He whipped around to stare intently at the bird, his tail flicked westward through a bowl of Kosher salt next to the cookies and sprayed the mounds of dough lightly with a sprinkle of salt. Samantha did not realize what had happened (she had gone to pour herself a finger of Scotch to take the edge off) and only later bit into what would become…the salty oat cookie.

Samantha was nobody’s fool. A taste so outrageously and unapologetically inventive was pure gold. She quit her job (where they never appreciated her anyway) and started baking the salty oat cookies for Marvelous Market. Yuppies flocked to their several DC locations. All seemed to be well.

Until one day, the nefarious Mr. Defarge, the owner (at the time and in this story) of Marvelous Market, made some inappropriate comments about Samantha’s hair/ass/cat/choice of husband/lifestyle/wardrobe, which caused Samantha to swiftly pack up her spatulas and cookie sheets and vacate the premises. Marvelous Market tried to do without her by making their own version of the cookie, but what had been cookies with perfect flavor and weight became alternately dry and soggy, flat and bulbous. Mr. Defarge had chosen…poorly.

Samantha knew she had something that needed to be shared with the public, but in the right place, the right ambiance. Somewhere safe, somewhere peaceful and Zen-like, somewhere…like…Teaism! When she met Teaism’s manager, a ruggedly handsome part-time artist who was also an excellent listener, Samantha knew she had found the place for her. Teaism began selling Samantha’s salty oat cookies at their Dupont, Lafayette Park and Penn Quarter locations. And there was joy in all the land.

The real recipe is kept a precious secret, known only to Samantha and Mr. Whiskers. But you can try a close approximation for yourself. But for the real experience, take the Sunday paper over to Teaism and buy a chai and a salty oat cookie for $6, or the price of a decent lunch somewhere else. (you can no longer get a decent lunch for $6 in DC).


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