This weekend my cousins and I organized a cousin’s party where we got the whole family together. It made me feel kind of weird to pull it together — usually it’s our Grammy or my mom who does that kind of thing. I guess it’s almost time for another generation in our family to step up.
I was really excited to bake pie for dessert. While we were eating, my uncle asked me why I like baking so much. I think I said something about how I like it because the act of making the crust calms me down and the finished product makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something even on the most unproductive days.
All that is true. But, here is the real reason:smiles like the one on my Papa’s face.
He’s eating a slice of strawberry rhubarb, which he requested from me I think two months ago. I was happy to make it for him. My Papa grew up in upstate New York in a town called Springerville. I’ve never been there, but I feel like I know the town thanks to the stories he’s shared with me about it over the years. When he was a little kid they had a rhubarb bush in his yard and he told me about the “pie fruit” he used to pick as a kid as I baked.
I like to bake because we remember so much of our lives gastronomically. My mother has traveled the world — she’s swum in the Mediterranean, walked on the Great Wall of China and taken a boat down the Nile — but when you ask about her travels, she tells you about the food.
I don’t think I can cook like the Italian masters or anything, but I do like the thought that now when my Papa thinks of strawberry rhubarb pie, he’ll be reminded of his childhood and also think about the pie I made him.
And, whenever I make that pie again, I know I will think about how much fun it was to stand in my mom’s kitchen in Tucson, folding butter into flour, making crust and listening to him tell me a story.