Yesterday was National Pi Day (3-14). Probably not an official holiday, but if it means an excuse for pie, I’m going to embrace it. I spent far too much energy looking for pie yesterday (Charlotte bakeries apparently don’t bake pie) and was lucky enough to finally get a slice of chocolate peanut-butter pie – my fave – near the end of the day. For that, I was grateful.
My luck with pie has not always been good. In 1986, I was in my second year of college near Milwaukee. During the Thanksgiving break, since I didn’t have any family nearby, I asked my childhood friend Thom if I could stay at his efficiency in Madison. I had spent the previous summer there and associated the town with good feelings of drunkenness. There was also a graduate dance student who I had met at a party and wanted to get to know better.
So before I went to Thom’s place, I stopped by the Dancer’s dorm, and she did that thing where she kept about 3 friends close by and watched the Sound of Music, apparently hoping I would get bored and leave. After the first six hours of the movie I got the hint, and I headed to the store, got a frozen turkey dinner and a pumpkin pie and then went to my friend’s place. Thom couldn’t leave me with his keys for some reason, so once he let me into the apartment and left for home, I was basically locked in until he returned three days later. Just like Jesus.
I don’t remember much about those three days, even though I ran out of alcohol halfway through. I remember a David Letterman short film festival with one of the entrants being Michael J Fox who did a funny short film blending hockey and classical music. And I remember the pie.
I didn’t know much about cooking, but I knew that pumpkin pie was an essential part of Thanksgiving. Even if I had no family with me and nothing much to be thankful for, I still had the pie. All Thom had to cook things was a toaster oven. The frozen turkey dinner conveniently had toaster oven instructions, and I cooked it more or less correctly. The pie, I figured could just be cooked at the lowest setting until a reasonable time had passed.
After a while, there was smoke, which I took to mean the pie was done. I looked in the oven and sure enough it was brown and black on top. More done than I usually like my pie, but I could remove the burnt bits.
The toaster oven had a single handle on the door, which was attached to the cooking tray, so you simply grasp the handle and slide out the tray when you want to remove your toast, or in this case, toasted pie. However, the pie was heavy and extremely unstable, due in large part to the fact that it was still completely liquid on the inside. As the pie freed itself from the cooking tray and decorated the floor, I realized that a pre-baked pie would have been a better choice.
So, no luck with the Dancer. Disaster with the toaster oven. No pie for me. At least I had Michael J Fox.