Thanksgiving, for me, begins with pie. P-I-E, pie. Not so much for the eating, as for the making of pies. For with the pie making come the memories.
The memories begin creeping in while I’m writing my grocery list: apples, pecans, cranberries, canned pumpkin, corn syrup, pie spices, sugar, flour, shortening. . . American Thanksgiving is a feast in celebration of North American foods gathered at the first harvest. So it follows that American Thanksgiving foods are cooked from ingredients grown, produced, and readily available in North America.
How many hours did I spend going store to store in Indonesia searching for those same unheard of items? Explaining cranberry sauce and pecans to the Indonesian custom officers; baking my first fresh pumpkin pie; the barrage of text messages heralding “Ranch Market has Crisco!”
How I would have welcomed that text as I drove from shop to shop, round and round Port-of-Spain and surrounds, Tuesday. Trinidad stores are well-stocked and carry all manner of imported goods. I’d worried some, about finding a nice turkey, but never dreamed I’d spend hours searching for ground cloves and shortening, lard, or TT equivalent.
From the time I was big enough to stand with my chin over the edge of the table, I helped. (Before that, the story goes, Nanny plopped me in the highchair with a blob of pie dough. I’d merrily mush and masticate while she rolled & baked.) She who capitalized the "P" in perfectionist, didn't allow anyone to interfere with the making of her pie. However, when the last pie was in the oven, training time--fun time--began. Nanny'd turn the rolling pin over to me.
Mimi, my neifrie (upstairs neighbor & friend) came over yesterday while I baked pies. Not to “get in my way” she assured me, but more to watch and keep me company. Before Mimi arrived, I was kind-of, sort-of . . . a lot nervous. Even with several batches of my secret weapon, Nanny’s Never Fail Pie Crust, chilling in the fridge, things could go wrong. I prefer to “make corrections” without witnesses. . .
We made a grand pie making adventure of it yesterday, Mimi and me. Mimi measured and mixed, stirred and washed while I rolled and crimped and fussed over each crust. Into each pie, along with the sugar and spice, fruit, flour and TT shortening substitute, we stirred memories—wisps of every holiday past and every person of them: my nanny, her mom and mine, our kids, our friends, our lives.
Thanks for the memories!