Be still my heart shaped sugar cookies. Traveling towards the expansive bakery counter armed with cookies iced in reds and pinks requires a steady hand. Bobbing and weaving through the coffee guzzling public is a bit of an obstacle course. There’s a disgruntled ‘Live Gluten-free or Die’ sconer in my path. Apparently the gluten free offering this morning is cinnamon raisin and not cherry coconut. The baristas are bending over backwards to be accommodating. I’m bending sideways to avoid colliding with a man waving an insulated milk carafe. Depositing the vintage crystal pedestal on the counter, I retreat. The air is thick with powdered sugar that tickles my throat. The phone warbles incessantly. There’s a woman seated at a table directly in front of me. She looks at me, looks at the phone, then back at me.
In its new configuration, the bakery is double in size. Patrons can espresso themselves while watching bakers in action. It’s a little too up-close-and-personal for my taste. Involuntary eye rolling and shoulder shrugging is in full view. It’s also abundantly clear when I’m ignoring the phone.
“How can I help you?” I ask, eyes rolling. The connection is poor and the woman on the other end is fading in and out of a speakerphone. Catching every other syllable I ask the woman to repeat what she is saying.
“We seem to have a bad connection. Can you turn off your speaker phone?”
“You (crackle) make (crackle) knees?”
“I’M SORRY, BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU.”
“BROWN (crackle) KNEES! (crackle) HEART!” I’m wondering if she’s trying to reach an organ donor line. “KNEES!” Suddenly she’s off the speakerphone. “I’m sure you make them.”
“We make many things, but I’m fairly certain we don’t make knees.”
“I’ve ordered them before.”
“Out of fondant?”
“No. Out of brownies.”
“Knees out of brownies?”
“Nooo. Hearts out of brownies.”
“Ohhh. No. I’m sorry. We don’t make those.”
“Are you sure?”
“Believe me, I’m sure.”
Ms. Desperately-Seeking-Brownie-Heart pauses momentarily before calling back. This time an unsuspecting barista answers the phone and then asks me the question. Unflinching, my answer remains the same. No, No, No. “That’s all we need. Cut out little hearts from brownies… We just said yes to a last minute birthday cake. And the birthday boy’s name is 4 letters, 75% of them consonants. Are we playing Wheel of Fortune? Would you care to buy another vowel?”
The barista nods and replies, “You haven’t had any coffee yet, have you?”
I may have said no to the brownie hearts, but just the other day I said yes to an unusual pie request. A gentleman named Philip asked me if I would bake him a pineapple pie with a lattice crust. When Philip reminisced about a bakery he frequented as a child growing up in Illinois, I was intrigued. Pie memory is a very powerful thing. It’s quite possible that the pineapple pie Philip remembers from his youth was made with canned pineapple tucked into a Crisco crust. I took the liberty to bake one using fresh pineapple and an all-butter crust. He seemed pretty excited when I handed him the windowed box, steamy from a pie just out of the oven. Every now and again pie nostalgia can benefit from the slightest ingredient update.
With pineapple pie on my personal Valentine's menu, there’s hope for this holiday weekend. More importantly, I had a visit from Cupid on my way to work yesterday. Walking to the bakery I found a slightly crumpled pink construction paper heart on the sidewalk. Unfolding it, the cursive sentiment read, Somebody Loves You. Be still my heart, indeed.