Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pie Update

On Wednesday (yes, the first day of school), I decided, oh, around 8 pm, to make a pie. I made this decision for several reasons: the blackberries were almost over ripe, I was awake anyway, watching "Rivers and Tides" trying to decide if I could use it in the Intro to Creative Nonfiction class, Son had just gone to bed, and we were having dinner the next night with Scorpion's Tail and company. A pie seems like a good thing to bring along.

Here's the pie. It was good, but not amazing. The crust was, overall, good, but tough in a few places. The filling was good, but, in my opinion, should have been sweeter. One friend disagreed. But.








This was my favorite part of the pie, the little lip where some filling was oozing out. I decided I like a pie that's not perfect, that has some imperfection. Otherwise, how would I know it was mine?









I have to say that the idea of "imperfection" has been greatly influenced by Andy Goldsworthy. I was watching, as I said, the documentary, "Rivers and Tides" as I waited for the crust to chill, then for the pie to bake, etc. He said (and I'm paraphrasing) that most art is so tightly controlled as to be airless. He likes to make art that incorporates surprise, chance, chaos. I think this is my theory of pies, and life, as well.
While making the pie I encountered the moment, as I do in most baking endeavors, where I ask myself, Why am I doing this? and simultaneously almost burst into tears. I don't want baking to be just another realm where I feel inadequate, and judged to be falling, well, just a bit short in the perfection category.
As I rolled out the crust, I couldn't help thinking of my many grandmothers, and the numerous pies they must have made in Iowa kitchens and Chicago apartments. They didn't worry about Martha Stewart or what the neighbors thought. Granted, they probably had much more experience, and guidance, in the pie making realm than me. But I don't want dessert preparation to be about doing it "right" and striving for "perfection." I want it to connect me to my grandmothers and to my son. I want it to taste delicious and look just a little bit out of control.

5 comments:

Condiment said...

You rolled out your own crust, good for you! I remember the summer I finished college before I moved up to Bellingham with JP my girlfriend and I were housesitting for a prof of hers for a few months. I was working about 20 hours a week and my brother was in town and the house was a actually a little cabin built in the 1800s with five or six apple trees. We saw a ton of movies and watched it get dark at night and played chess and I made a pie from scratch every few days for weeks in a row. I gained a ton of weight but it was a very happy time! Something about baking was fulfilling in a way that everyday life was not...

Lisa B. said...

I have many parts of pie making that are the best part--the scraps of dough that I bake sprinkled with sugar, the whole crimping thing, adjusting the filling a little to include some surprising hit of flavor, etc. Rolling out is almost never my favorite part--pie crust is a little tricky. My mother taught me by giving me tips while I was making my first crust--tips about not handling the dough too much, coldness, etc. She is a a great pie maker. I love your meditation on not having pie making be about perfection. It's about the sweetness enfolded in crustiness and also, in my opinion, about some variety of cream, ice or whipped or even just plain old cream.

ErinAlice said...

I too love pie. I haven't actually made one in years. I think it is the crust. GiGi makes great crust. Must be all that experience. Yours looks great btw and I love the outer crust where the juice seeps through too. Yum!!I remember baking the left over dough with cinnamon and sugar. I suddenly feel bad for never having actually made a crust with my girls. I guess that will be one of my projects. I mean that have to make crust at least once before they leave home!!

theorris said...

I think we should start a bakery instead of podcast.

Nik said...

My mother always said you had to have cold hands to make good pie--to keep the butter from melting, toughening the crust. Her grandmother had cold hands but she had hot. I have warm hands. But mostly I use store-bought pie dough so really, a pie to me is berries or other fruit. What is the best pie? Peach? Cherry? I do love custard pies--pumpkin season is coming up soon enough.