We inherit many things from generation to generation. Smiles, senses of humor, height, family china, family Bibles, etc. One of my favorite things that’s been passed down to me has little-to-no monetary value, but it is immeasurably valuable to me is family recipes. This past weekend I decided to cook some pies.
Now, in my household, pies are what the world revolves around. True story: When my nearly ninety year old grandmother starts to get full during a meal, she’ll stop eating to make sure she saves enough room for dessert. This sweet lady has, thankfully, never had diabetes or sugar issues. It’s a miracle, too, considering she sweetens even Lucky Charms. I think my body nearly went into a sugar shock once I learned that after I’d already started eating my cereal when I was staying with her once. Clearly, desserts, pies in particular, are important in my family.
In the South, pies are used to convey sorrow, joy and every emotion in between. They are proudly displayed at church pot lucks and are brought to homes to welcome new babies and comfort those who have lost loved ones. As easy as pies may seem to be, hence the saying “as easy as pie,” the immense number of recipes I have inherited for each type of pie seems to say differently, with subtle variations seemingly making big impacts in the results of the pie.
Debates in the pie world include everything from using cornstarch vs. flour to meringue vs. cream. Every family has their own “perfect” recipe for each part of the pie, including the crust, filling and meringue or cream.
As I combed over the many variations of a chocolate meringue pie I had received from my sweet granny, I realized no pie I make will ever be like hers, even if I followed each recipe to the T. She just knows “her” pie. She doesn’t need to measure each ingredient for the crust, because the recipe might warrant change, even by a teaspoon of flour, because of the weather. She cooks by feel and by heart, something I’m slowly learning to do. She’s taught me and given me so much over my life, but I’ve only started to realize how much she’s impacted who I am and my value system. I pray one day I pass on not only her recipes but her essence to my own daughter as we bake pies together.
In fact, a bit of that love is shared each time we bake for each other. It isn’t the ingredients but the time and care that we are putting into food that we give to others when we share our food with them. Not much is more Southern or hospitable than that. As I continue to go over various traditions, I hope you’ll join with me in sharing our food and our love with others.
What is your favorite thing to make for others?