Pie Anxiety

When pie causes a bit of trouble.

We have arrived squarely in the season of pie. A period of high expectation about measuring up to whatever standard we may set for ourselves: the cleanest house, the most thoughtful gifts, the best-laid table…more, newer, better…

Pie is an emblem of all we anticipate–and also the anxiety that goes with it. Only last month, I had my own pie moment when our local Slow Food chapter hosted a FUNdraiser. I signed up to roast the pig, make ice cream and at the last minute–when we were freaking out that we wouldn’t have enough food–I added two pies to my workload.

I defrosted some of our cherries and felt confident that it would all come together from there. Let me cut to the chase and report that those two cherry pies were godawful.The worst pies I have ever made–burned on the tops with tough crusts and watery filling.

At evening’s end, I took grim pleasure in dumping those pies into the compost. I hoped, at least, they would make some pig snort with joy. Afterwards, I winced with embarrassment, maybe even a touch of shame for producing such abominations.

Just two days after my pie failure, my sister in law asked me to bake a peach pie for her partner James’s birthday. Using the last of the season’s stone fruits, I filled my crusts, panicking a little bit. What if these didn’t turn out for James’s big day, live up to expectations?

Like life, pie is unpredictable, messy and always imperfect in some way. Why not celebrate that? Because I want it to be otherwise, controlled and predictable with successful results 99.99% of the time.

Today is another pie day when I’ll be making a few for a house full of friends tomorrow. I thought I’d treat myself to a cappuccino at Red Horse Coffee this morning and saw this timely quote posted on their espresso machine:

Always make new mistakes. –Esther Dyson

Just last night, as I tucked Molly into bed, she looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, “I make so many mistakes.”

Yes, I said quietly, “And so do I and Daddy, and your teacher and the principal and the president.” I left her to sleep with a catch in my throat. Received wisdom from my 7 year old.

Making mistakes is hard and necessary. And so, as I approach my pie making, here’s what I’ll try to remember. There is no such thing as perfect pie–or the perfect house, the perfect gift, the perfect meal, let alone the perfect life.

But tell me, what’s so wrong with darned good pie?

Here are two of my favorite pie crust recipes:

 

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