Her first pie.

November 27th, 2013, 8pm

It was 3.3°C with scattered clouds. There was moderate breeze.

My apartment smells of cardamom and figs and toasted almonds.

I hug her mother goodbye, and so begins the crust with cream cheese. We read the recipe together, pulse the butter into the flour. The dough is shaggy right up to when it coheres - it’s always that way, nothing holds until it does. Baking is alchemy. I show her how to start with the heel of her hand at the center, then press the corners out. She learns the ingredient sequence of crusts: the dry, the fat, the liquid.

The filling is built on three eggs and a yolk whisked into two colors of sugar. Some buttermilk, cornmeal for luck, vinegar for balance, the outside of an orange zested and half its juice squeezed in. We take the cardamom cake out to cool and flip the crust into the pie pan. Trimming the edges, we press excess dough into leaf shapes (her choice), using a butter knife to score veins in our pastry foliage. Turtle beans weight tin foil as we bake the crust blind.

The filling firms up in the oven while we make a hard caramel, marveling equally that sugar and water will bubble and dissolve from clear into golden and finally amber to pour over almonds and harden into a sheet of candied stained glass to be broken into triangles and garnish the apple-fig-apricot tart.

She is a quick study, bookish and thoughtful, all legs as I was at her age - good for a dancer in this city that likes longer strides. We zip up our coats and go out to buy wine for the dinner tomorrow. Somehow we detour for ice cream, these things happen. We search the prepared case, decide against pumpkin, and go to the counter to consider. I ask for a pint with honeycomb stirred into vanilla to pair with our pie. She nods sagely. He smiles from the other side and asks if we are sure there aren’t any we need to sample before we leave. She tosses long brown hair just like mine in middle school over her shoulder. We pick a flavor, the same one, and he holds the small spoons out to us.

At the register I realize for the first time: I fit the neighborhood demographic. They think they know who I am, that this daughter isn’t borrowed, her daily triumphs and despair on me to assuage in the beautiful forever in front of her. When we cannot show what almost was, we fall back on our stories. Some of us lack visible evidence of the other lives we led, we are unable to present a manifestation of a choice. There was a moment when it was laughable to think on it - so much time! Such a world! Now it is like an excruciating garage door you wait to make sure has closed before driving away. More than a decade ago as a young bride—but here we are, the nice people need to be paid, and I will smile and give exact change and wish I could say yes, this one, she’s mine.

Cassie, Samuel, Lia, Allan and 2 others said thanks.

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Kristen Taylor

drinker of raw milk, founder/editor of @saucymag, call me @kthread

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