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As with bagels and cupcakes, bakers and food writers are going to ridiculous lengths lately to build a better cookie. I’m not sure I get it, particularly the multi-day chocolate chip cookie marathon recipe proposed this summer by the New York Times.

The perfect recipe—-whether for chocolate chip cookies or anything else—-is perfectly arbitrary. Your ideal will be different than mine or anybody else’s (though, I guess, consensus can always be reached on the “perfect” anything). Your idea of perfect will be based on your palate, your chocolate preference (milk? semisweet? dark?), and your personal history. For better or for worse, our mamas (and papas) have likely shaped our tastes more than the New York TimesDining & Wine section ever will.

In our new Food Issue, Jule Banville digs deep into the Times‘ chocolate chip cookie recipe and levels a sound judgment on its quality, particularly when time and money are factored into the equation. I won’t spoil the ending, but suffice to say that John Martin Taylor, the District’s pre-eminent writer on Southern cuisine, “howled” over it. I think he meant that in a good way.