Friday, October 1, 2010

American Pie, Martha and Moi

So, I know that I tend to preach in my blogs about the glory of French food, cooking techniques, my Chef crush on Daniel Boulud, and well, pretty much all things en francais. In fact, a week ago while at the beach, I had to endure endless mockery from the Mancandy as we laid out our beach blanket and I proceeded to pull out and devour an issue of Country French Magazine- What? It was an issue on decorating in country French style, and I was raving over the hearth-like kitchens in the spread. Like you wouldn’t have done the same? Although I adore my French provincial-style dinnerware and had a near meltdown when a single plate was broken at our last dinner party, yielding an uneven set, I actually am quite fond of American classics as well. When it comes to food, there are a plethora of classics in the American cuisine that I just can’t get enough of, and a good apple pie is one of them- It’s just one of those foods that conjure up some of my fondest memories from childhood, and honestly, what could be better than that?

Maybe it’s the change to cooler weather, my biological clock has started ticking, or perhaps just pure boredom- but yours truly is officially nesting. Instead of splurging on trips abroad, little black dresses, or even Prada, I’ve been diverting my disposable income to home goods stores such as Sur la Table, Williams Sonoma, and even on multiple occasions dressing incognito and raiding the messy cookware isles of TJ Maxx, picking up random Le Creuset and copper cookware for fifty percent off. It was on such an occasion, as I was desperately trying to find a replacement for the aforementioned broken plate, that I came across my new obsession: an ivory and Tiffany blue, deep dish pie plate, with fluted rim. “I don’t bake pies”, I thought to myself as I started to walk away from the dish. “But then again, I don’t have a Tiffany blue, deep dish pie plate with fluted rim- Because if I HAD one, I’d be baking pies all the time!” I reasoned as I quickly stopped, reversed, and snatched up the dish.

Later that day as I stared at the pie dish, I was torn between my fondest food memories with my Auntie Louise’s apple pies and a desire to create my own amazing recipe; and the fact that if I did, the Mancandy’s assessment that I was the “Asian Martha Stewart” would then be correct. If I made the pie would it then just be a sleigh ride to becoming a Stepford Wife? What was next? Cashmere twin sweater sets, with cardigans draped over my shoulders? Oh wait… I already wear those. Well Wisteria Lane make room, because obviously the food won and I ended up doing my spin on an American classic- Apple and Browned Sage Butter Pie with Cream Cheese Crust. Even though it wasn’t my Auntie Louise’s pie, it took me right back to my childhood and I was literally giddy like an eight year old all over again. In fact it made me so damn giddy that I made another pie for my friend Christine when we had our girl’s night the following week, (yes your math is correct, that’s two pies in seven days). She sat there in horror as I proceeded to work two cubes of butter into the crust and another cube into the apple mixture itself. She ate it anyway.

There are few things that I find as comforting as the foods from our childhoods. The tastes and smells of those foods often take us back to times that, like the food itself, were simpler than that which we have now. Mine is my Auntie Louise’s apple pie, yours may be something as basic as a grilled cheese sandwich with Campbell’s tomato soup, mac and cheese or a chocolate chip cookie. But regardless, I think it’s important to take the time to enjoy those foods again, whether you’re cooking them yourself or finding a fabulous restaurant in our fair city that dishes up the classics reminiscent of your childhood.

So perhaps I am becoming more Martha-like with my pies and floral arrangements, and am thinking of trading in my racy Dolce for A-line pleated Oscar de la Renta frocks in pastel hues- But really, is that such a bad thing? Maybe nesting and reverting back to the foods of our past isn’t counter-productive, but actually signifies growth- That we’re ready to move on to the next stage of our lives, creating and sharing those childhood memories with a new generation. Even though I still prefer a penthouse loft on 5th Avenue to the white picket fence, and a shiny Rover to a mini-van, the idea of the Wisteria Lanes of the world and what Pleasantville represents, are somehow both exciting and comforting to me. And I for one can’t think of getting a better slice of the preverbal American Pie than that. Bon app├ętit!

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