“It’s cherry season,” I was informed, “and I’d like to make a pie.”
When someone tells you that during the hottest June you’ve ever felt, you think “a trip to Publix for ingredients… the oven will be going… flour all over the kitchen” and you run out to the car as fast as you can because, after all, it IS cherry season. And you are asked to make a crust from scratch rather than buying one of those processed, plastic store-bought ready crusts– really, how insulting to one’s guests!– and you think: lattice-work top, with maybe some dough cutouts of cherries to dress the top with…
After searching through Barnes and Noble and Borders for a Serbo-Croatian grammar for cousin Nicola, he and I disappeared into the vast Publix near Winter Park Village; it used to be an Albertson’s, and I swear there’s a three ring circus somewhere in the store to entertain the kids while mommy or daddy does the shopping. It’s HUGE… and it was freezing. My cousin, who can’t abide by temperature fluctuations that range more than two degrees on either side of a balmy 75 (24 Celsius), went from the sultry night air into the frigid depths of Publix with me so that we could shop for pie ingredients, one of which was “a bottle of that cherry liqueur that they probably have in those little liquor stores that Publix has now.” Well, it was SO cold in there– Nicola’s hands were icy– that we sped up and down the familiar aisles looking for ingredients which were, I might add, not written aisle-by-aisle in the order that the store features them. Not that it would have helped in this case; this Publix is markedly different from the ones I am familiar with. But still… we raced up and down, trying to keep warm, stopping every now and then when we spied an ingredient. Cherries… eggs… lemon. Natural sugar… tapioca… and then some things we needed at the house: salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, and Sierra Mist, which is all that cousin Nicola drinks.
Of course there were two things that we didn’t have strength enough to find and, besides, our fingers were numb. Back home by ten PM, which is hardly the time to start making a pie. Anyway, that’s one of our cocktail hours.
Sunday was pie-making day; after cousin and I got back from downtown and lunch, I was pressed into crust service (see above), and Nicola was inveigled into pitting four cups of red cherries. For every one he pitted, he ate two; his system had something to do with the dollar-to-Euro exchange rate. Kirk composed and macerated the filling, which led to a protracted discussion in Italian and English as to what macerate meant, and cousin was relieved to discover that it isn’t something necessarily done in private. Actually, I jest, and to macerate is actually rendered amalgamare in Italian, and soon my kitchen was amalgamated with flour. How can two and a half cups of flour end up coating every surface between here and Sanford? But, I clean as I go, and with the help of Narba and Sarba, our twin Kreplachian housekeepers, the mess was kept to a minimum. And of course the crust I rolled out was barely enough to just droop over the sides of the pie baker– hence the little red buttons I made to seal the lattice to the sides. Ingenious, I know.
It turned out very well and is setting as we speak. We’re all looking forward to a slice, but we won’t be indulging until cocktail hour is over.