Saturday, March 04, 2006

Humble Pie

It’s been a while since I had a birthday party, so I had to do some quick thinking when Cheryl and I invited our friends over for a party. One of the first decisions was whether to have a cake. No, I said to everyone. I’m a pie kind of a guy. As an older member said to me several years ago during the course of a church pot-luck, “There’s only two kinds of pie I like………hot or cold!” I second that. So we invited everyone to bring a pie for my birthday to share. Something about pie brings out the best in people and I’ve found produces some good conversation.

I came across called “Humble Pie” by Anne Dimock with the subtitle “Musings on what lies beneath the crust” that pretty sums up my feelings about pie.

“Nothing as easily as pie stands for everything decent, good, honest, homey and American. Some people don’t eat pork. Some don’t eat meat. Some people don’t ingest caffeine or alcohol. Is there anyone who, as a statement of ethics or conscience, doesn’t eat pie.” --Roger Welsch

I learned about pie-baking the old fashioned way, from my grandmother. If I wanted pie, she was always ready to bake one. In the summer during blackberry season on her farm, my grandmother would send me out into the woods with a bucket to pick enough of that delectable black fruit to bake up a cobbler or pie. I had to put some effort into it, picking the berries and trying to avoid the sticky thorns on the vines. Eating some of the fruit along with the picking was part of the experience. So was a case of “chiggars”; those pesky microbial bugs that dig under the skin and start fierce scratching. But the pay off was one fantastic pie. I still have the kitchen stool my grandmother sat on to make pie crust. She’d measure out the flour in an earthen mixing bowl, then hollow out a valley in the mountain of flour to pour in the butter milk, and then cut in some lard. We’d sprinkle flour on the mixing board for the crust and then roll it out and cut it to shape. Pie making is a sensory experience at its best. Pie baking is a talent worth sharing. It takes a little time and some care, but a master pie baker can easily guess at the measurement of ingredients.

Humble pie. Anne Dimock says that “Pie Makers do not weigh and consider their calling. They do not choose among berries or stone fruits as one might choose a pair of shoes. The Pie Maker is called and that’s all there is to it; she (or he?) either heeds the call or not.” Dimmock believes each pie maker is called to a particular kind of pie; almost like a spiritual calling that is unique. For her it was rhubarb.

For Dimmock, rhubarb has it all- the power to enrich, to humble, to satisfy, and to make everybody happy. It is God’s wisdom…It places everyone on an equal footing and teaches what is really important and essential in this world. It is also one of the best pies to set the stage for a reconciliation. It doesn’t matter how long the feud or what it was about, rhubarb pie loosens everybody’s grip just enough to work some magic. A couple of forkfuls and adversaries begin to lower their guard. An entire slice leads to declarations of mutual support and admiration. There is much to admire in a rhubarb pie: the perfect pairing of opposites-sour and sweet- and the proof that they can, and should, coexist.

Needless to say, I like pie. I’m thinking right now about a home-made apple pie with Granny smith apples. It’s putting me in a pretty good mood.


At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, the good old days in Angier...


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