There is a story behind my elephant cookies that goes back over 30 years, to a small town upstate New York, deep in the Adirondacks, call Old Forge.
It’s a story of family and friends, and a bunch of elephants.
You see, I am an elephant.
In fact, everyone in my family is an elephant.
No, I haven’t lost my mind. I realize that an explanation is warranted here.
And there is an explanation.
Way back in 1978, my parents and my dad’s college roommate decided that we would all go skiing during Presidents Week in February. We were a few families and we rented houses in Old Forge that year.
The following year a few more families joined us and it became a yearly ritual. The number of families grew by the year.
Each night a different family would host everyone else for dinner and cocktails: Not an easy feat since the size of the group had grown significantly in a short time. I vividly recall huge trays of lasagna and pots of stew and chili wedged in snow mounds outside the back door of each house. The refrigerators couldn’t begin to contain enough food and drink for the number of us who had descended upon Old Forge.
One year my father found a recipe, a real recipe I might add, in a New York newspaper, for Elephant Stew.
The recipe called for one whole elephant chopped into bite-size pieces, along with a host of vegetables and herbs. The adults among us decided it was just the kind of recipe our group needed and the name was born: We were now the Elephant Stew Ski Club.
Elephant T-shirts, bumper stickers and sweatshirts were made and each year we’re greeted by the marquis above the movie theater: Welcome Elephant Stew Ski Club.
The name would lead you to believe we focus our outings exclusively around one winter sport involving moguls and chair lifts. Truthfully though, many of the elephants rarely make it up to the ski lodge on a daily basis.
And they’re not the least bit embarrassed about it. The intention is there but sometimes the party from the previous night supersedes a day on the slopes.
Actually, that happens more often than not.
Many who were not original elephants have been lucky enough to have married an elephant or have been born into an elephant family. And over the years there have been many more who have requested entry into the club and have gone through an induction celebration.
Elephants welcome new members with open arms as each induction provides justification for yet another night of partying.
Yes, there is a story behind my elephant cookies and it’s a story of family and lifelong friendships, good times and a million laughs, more than enough cocktails to drown a small town, some skiing and winter sports on occasion, and now a fall weekend getaway.
Because one week a year was simply not enough.
This past week a large group of the elephants gathered in Old Forge and I decided to make elephant cookies for everyone. I made some baby elephants and some large elephants, each with his own blanket.
And most of the elephants got pink toe nails for no particular reason.
So if you’re ever in Old Forge in February don’t hesitate to look for the elephants. We’re hard to miss.
You’re more than likely to find elephants up on the slopes, a few down at the bowling alley, a group up at the school playing basketball, more than a few down at Howard Johnson’s nursing a hangover with a cup of coffee, and one or two at the local hardware store looking to fix something that mysteriously broke during the night while 150 elephants were socializing in the living room of one of our small ski houses.
Elephants are a friendly, sociable group who always welcome new members.