Monday, March 06, 2006

In the eleven minutes before I cut the pie...

...I pause and I know that the aroma wafting through the house will change once the knife slips through the browned top of the pie on the counter, the pie the dogs sat before the oven smelling and watching and waiting for, the pie I peeled and sliced apples for while my friends watched 24 in the family room, the pie that made me think about my mother and the time she baked and froze eight apple pies because I loved them so much but then the freezer was left cracked open on a summer day and the pies thawed, the pie that made me think about my grandmother who made pie crusts with lard (lard has never worked for me the way butter works; I will tell you to avoid Crisco at all costs because it will kill you) and who so often had a pie waiting when we rolled up in the middle of the night, the pie whose crust I made in the interstices of preparing for a party yesterday (because I know how to squeeze a crust into nearly any gap, because I have been making them from scratch since I got over my fear with the help of some friends five years ago and learned that if you believe the Joy of Cooking when it tells you not to worry about your pies' aesthetics but just to focus on their taste, you'll be patient with yourself and you'll learn that others want the taste and you'll make more pies and then you'll be fearless and they (beautiful) will be your trademark and you'll turn to them with a relief and a glory in what your fingers know how to do with flour, butter, sugar, salt, and water, and one time you'll make eight pies' worth of double crusts in the space of ninety minutes, getting ready for graduation parties, and this particular night you'll warm the chilled disk of dough between your floured hands until it's malleable enough to hit surely with the rolling pin and you'll push it until you have the right round thinness to line a blue pie dish and you'll hear that Jack Bauer is hounding some woman who doesn't believe her husband is the enemy and right then, as though you timed it, though you didn't because you don't have to anymore, the filling will have finished bubblyspitthickening over high heat on the stove and you will pour the apples and their spiced juice into the bottom crust, seal on the top crust, and let your fingers keep doing the work they've memorized, in one of your favorite embodiments of kinesthetic memory, your body's knowledge, your favorite body of remembrance, as they fold and pinch into shape the excess hanging over the pie plate because you believe a pie subsumes all excess), the pie that made me start wondering again about why Reese Witherspoon repeatedly invoked "real womanhood" in her acceptance speech last night, the pie that makes me think there's something to be said here that I just can't say yet about travesties and caricatures of Americanness, the pie that made me think of my beloved Brooklynite who taught me neither to measure the spices nor to stop at cinnamon nor to use a spatula to mix in the crust's water but who still asks for pie recipes every Thanksgiving, the pie that tonight we won't wait to cool, the pie that will fuel my friend's teaching preparation, the pie that we will cut soon, the pie the dogs will want to eat (having tasted the raw materials), the pie we will eat for breakfast for days, the pie for which a knife is even now being selected, the pie that we will cut in thirty seconds.

"Hey, how does pie sound?" comes the call up the stairs. My eleven minutes are up.

A postscript--come on, you knew it was coming. Twenty minutes later:


Blogger StinkyLulu said...

Pie. The prettiest 3 letters ever.

MrStinky's an adventurous, gifted pie-maker as well. One day, we should have a special ModFab6 "Pie Party"!

11:18 AM, March 07, 2006  
Blogger KYlitprof said...

...and it tasted SOOOO good! Truly, the thought of a piece of that pie this afternoon (in good company) is the comforting thought that will sustain me through this first part of the day.

11:21 AM, March 07, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

@stinkylulu: I would gladly bake pies with and for the Six. I have a large repertoire.

@kylitprof: One of your dogs was sleeping with his head on my head a little while ago, but my drowsing in bed with them seemed to agitate them; they couldn't stop rustling up and barking every few minutes. Now they are both curled in the sun sleeping; one has commandeered the pillow once again.

11:25 AM, March 07, 2006  
Blogger four inches of ego said...

Dr. S's pies truly are the best things ever. If not for the taste [which is fabulous] then for the deftness of her finger's muscle-memory...

Any time you want to come visit and bake pies, you are welcome...

5:17 PM, March 07, 2006  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Thanks, guys!

I can't believe I'm in Kentucky and I haven't yet made a joke about "pah," which is how we say it in Indiana too.

5:26 PM, March 07, 2006  

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