I thought about ranting about my parents’ anti-sugar, anti-processed flour reign of terror for “sweet”, but that’s been done. Let me instead tell you about my subversive tactics for lifting the restrictions of that awful regime…
I told Dad that there were ripe blackberries, giant, enormous blackberries that would taste wonderful in a pie, but alas, you just can’t make a pie without sugar and flour. So sad. No pie. Such a shame too, because they were really sweet blackberries. Wouldn’t hardly take much sugar at all to make such a pie.
I saw Dad’s resolve weakening. He suggested honey, and I said that would make a gummy pie, but a touch of clove and cinnamon would really enhance those berries. I let him gnaw on that a bit while I watched him swallow more than normally necessary and chew the inside of his cheek.
“Why don’t you go pick some of those berries and bring them home?” he said. “No, it’s not worth the bother to bring them back. I mean I would if I were making a pie, but you know berries won’t hold up when you’ve got to carry them that far. They’ll get too smashed up.”
It was a standoff. I watched Dad continue to swallow his Pavlovian saliva and contemplated my purple fingers. Dad obviously wrestled with his conscience of healthy living and pie. I could see pie was winning.
“Why don’t you take me to where you found them and I’ll just eat some there?” he countered. “No way! You’d eat them all. Besides, they don’t care if I eat them, but they won’t like it if you go there.” Check. My 8 or 10 year old self could pick berries lots of places a grown man couldn’t, and Dad knew it. I didn’t bother to tell him that the berries were on free land.
“Don’t you like pie, Dad? It’s mostly healthy. I mean, it’s mostly fruit, and fruit’s good for us.”
Dad’s conscience was on the ropes. I licked my purple fingers and started wandering very slowly towards the door.
“Okay! Okay! One pie!” Checkmate. I made two pies. After all, the crust recipe is for 2 pies, and you don’t really expect me to know how to half a recipe at that age, do you Dad?
I made sure there was some sort of fruit or berries in season for the rest of the summer. We ate a lot of pies. Mom made strawberry shortcake. Eventually we even got cookies. Dad bragged about my pies to Grandma, and she taught me to use ice water and not to touch the crust except to put it in the tin and crimp the edges. Sadly, this pie wisdom has been rendered obsolete by ready-made pie crusts, but I still could make a crust if I had to, and I cut air vents in the top in a wheat pattern like our women always have because as Mom says, “It’s tradition. We have to.” Or for the longer Mom explanation, wheat represents plenty.
Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy? Can she bake a cherry pie, Charming Billy?