I know, I know…but until now I really didn’t know.
This pie, the last pie, started out like so many other pies: bubbly hot from the oven. If hopes and wishes were cherries…well, you know.
This particular pie was preceded by a rather yummy lobster and corn salad for dinner. We drank something with bubbles. And, I cannot tell a lie, we gossiped a little (pies love gossip). But mostly, the three of us (of course Eileen was there) savored the little forkfuls of hot cherries and warm pastry. After dinner, Kate took about a quarter of the pie over to the Princess of Harlem and her entourage.
This is where it all gets hazy.
“What should I do with the other half of the pie?” I asked my friends. I thought perhaps I should give it to the family down the hall — the dad, a few years my senior, wears a porkpie hat and rides the subway downtown with me; or perhaps the lady on the other end of the hall, the one with the three young children; or maybe the pie should go to my favorite doorman. In any case, I was not going to carry the pie outside my building. My friends debated on the internet most of the night offering up reasons that young children might not be pie-worthy, or why Norris might not need a few more extra pounds. By then it was approaching midnight. Too late to be ringing doorbells.
And then I got a message: “SAVE IT FOR MEEEEEEEEE”
Nobody refuses Miss Whitney.
She was flying in that next morning and would swing by to pick it up at the front desk on the way home. This was the plan. I left the pie swaddled in foil and a shopping bag as I headed out the door to my Monday appointments. One three-hour powerpoint death-march, a gel manicure, and a tooth tiara installation later, I was home with armfuls of grain alcohol (don’t ask). It was close to sunset. Troy was at the door by then. “Miss Elaine, your friend never picked up the package.”
I sent her a text. Bad weather plus a plane crash in New York. Her plane had been diverted to that obscure circle of Hell known as Philadelphia. There is no pie in that particular circle of Hell, just the unfulfilled promise of pie. I fell asleep without knowing what would become of it, that precious last half of the last pie. But it was gone in the morning when I took the bus to WIlliamstown.
This afternoon, nearly two weeks later, Whitney gave me this account:
She took a taxi straight from the airport to my building that night to pick up the pie and accused Troy of eating some of it. Then she went to her studio to drop off her stuff. She warmed up the pie in the communal kitchen and attacked it right there in her workspace — straight out of the pie dish — sitting amongst her luggage. She could not stop eating it. Philadelphia can do that to the best of us.
Nobody deserved that last pie more.
There is a moment every year when they stop being pie worthy. There is a sad moment when the fruit is over-ripe and the skin begins to toughen. It’s subtle. I can’t quite describe it, but I can see it when it happens. That’s when it’s time to put the pie pans away and make cocktail cherries and cherry pit bitters.
Here are the completed cocktail cherries embarking on a month of steeping, and the pits from 24 pies ready for their grain alcohol bath.
It is unusual but not but not frowned upon to give gifts in exchange for pie. Here are a few charming things that were gifted during this year’s pie sharing:
- A jar of Harlem Sour Cherry Jam from the Princess of Harlem
- An anchovy jar of Quince Jelly from Marco’s family
- A jar of Hand-foraged Red Hook Mulberry Jam from Ruby’s Dad
- A spoon and hair ornament from Ruby
- Calla lilies from the Albanians
A certain set of Albania twins celebrated their birthday at a certain under-cooled gallery last night. Cherry pies love Albanians and champagne, so Friday’s pie insisted on attending. Also in its company was a special request tag-along pie for Molly (it was also her birthday, but she is neither a twin nor Albanian). We sliced the pie into 16 pieces but only had 15 plates. Marco refused to be seen eating from a pie plate, calling it barbaric. This humble pie maker had no such problem.