“A lot of people have never really had the chance to taste a decent apple pie, but after a minute’s sensual reflection will know positively what they would expect if they did. They can taste it on their mind’s tongue . . . ”
~ M.F.K. Fisher, “Mom, The Flag and Apple PIe.”
Rhapsodizing yesterday about apple pie as a supreme American icon brought back some fond memories.
My mom’s not a baker, but two of her younger sisters made very fine apple pies. It was all pretty mysterious, though, since I never actually saw Aunty Ella or Aunty Inez in full baking mode. Their mouth-watering creations simply appeared in all their glory at family potlucks.
Alas! Eating homebaked goods does not come without its risks. We knew, early on, to be cautious of the “Aunty Ella phone call.” Sometimes she would invite us over in the middle of the week to help her polish off baked goods that had been otherwise rejected by her family. Christmas fruitcake from the Depression era and overbaked rock-hard cookies come to mind. We called those toothbreakers “prison cookies,” because my uncle worked as a prison guard and sometimes brought home cookies baked by real hardened criminals. (We assumed Aunty Ella had channeled their recipes.)
To be fair, though, Aunty Ella was a good baker most of the time, but somehow, I don’t remember eating that many of her apple pies. It was Aunty Inez’ apple pies that we truly coveted.