Tirana on the Hudson
Marco took the A train to Harlem from JFK—straight off a trans-Atlantic flight. He’d been a month in Euroland mostly on vacation. Tanned, hair streaked with sun, he stood at my door demanding pie. In his backpack were gifts from his home town, a little beach resort on the Adriatic: small jars of Gelatina di Cotoonata made by his mother and hand-labelled by his father.
Then the Albanians showed up bearing gifts from Staten Island. Calla lilies, thyme and rosemary…and wine. I explained I couldn’t pit the cherries for their pie because someone had stuck a needle in my shoulder. While Marco adjourned to freshen up, they pitted the cherries. 250 cherries. You’ve got to love the Albanians.
Marco regaled us with his Swiftian tales. His Gulliver traveled the fantastical lands of the art world. He told us about cities that rose out of the water and then sunk again, about what it feels like to be blinded by art, and see gold coins fall like rain from the sky.
We had a light dinner of duck prosciutto, a salad of raw corn, zucchini and mint, and a little couscous with lots of parsley and cucumber. We bided our time while the pie baked and then cooled. Pie is at its prime about 30 minutes to an hour out of the oven. Ask the Albanians. They know about cherries.
It is to be noted that the night passed without the singing of Bohemian Rhapsody.
I’m taking Independence Day off from baking but I still have half a pie. Anything could happen.