Czech expatriate Eva Giannone has been living in New York City for over 20 years. She is known throughout the NY Czech community for amazing Christmas cookies. This year, Eva is collaborating in the Czech Center New York event to launch a Czech Christmas tree for New York and has prepared special packages of Christmas cookies for its participants.
My name is Eva Giannone and I have been living in New York City for over 20 years. The traditions I grew up with back in the Czech Republic still follow me to this day. As long as I can remember Christmas was always such an exciting and wonderful time in my life. As a child above all Christmas meant it was time to bake cookies with my grandma who taught me all the tricks of the baking trade.
I still love the smell of vanilla and butter when cookies are baking in the oven. With Christmas carols playing all day long in my kitchen (and my favorite rom com on Netflix) I bake with love and fond memories of this most special time of the year.
Eva, how long you've been baking like this, how much and for whom?
I have been baking for friends and family since the day after I arrived in New York. I now have many customers that order cookies throughout the year, because who says cookies are just for Christmas!
Last year I was honored to be part of the 2019 New York Czech Christmas at the Bohemian National Hall, selling my cookies at the annual Christmas market. I brought 90 boxes… and sold out in an hour. It was such a great thrill!
What do Czechs in America like the most and how many varieties do you do?
Everyone’s favorite are Vanilkove Rohlicky (vanilla crescents). I have been using the recipe my grandma handed down to me. These delicate cookies just melt in your mouth. I’m always hunting for new recipes but have yet to find anything better than my beloved Grandma’s. I bake on average about 20 different varieties of pastries.
Do you have all the raw materials we know at home in the Czech Republic?
Oh yes! Luckily all the quality ingredients are easily accessible in New York City. A big plus for me and all the Czechs and Slovaks who live in New York is this wonderful store called Slovak-Czech Varieties in Long Island City. They offer a huge selection of all goodies for baking, cooking and so much more.
For my Pernicky (a Czech version of gingerbread cookies) I have been proudly using delicious honey from Nourse Farm in Massachusetts. It’s the 10th oldest continuously run family business in the US since 1722.
Do you have an interesting story of how children or adult Americans reacted to candy?
Pastry Chef/ Author of Cookie Time, Marilyn Miller, is a friend of mine. She buys my cookies to ship to her son. He said he likes my cookies better than hers! One of my clients regularly orders 3 pounds of Vanilkove Rohlicky; last year just 2 days after I delivered an order to her she asked if she can place another one as her family ate them all!
My son is my hardest critic, and I love to see him sneak into the cookie jar to get some jelly cookies, apologizing that he just cannot help it.
Photo: Czech Center Archive and Eva Giannone
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