You can practically taste the Bain de Soleil in the air. Patrons waft in and out of the bakery screen door with that Holiday Weekend look. White linen and gingham button downs and short shorts pause impatiently for iced cold brew and gluten free scones. Peering through the racks of sheet trays, it appears many of them are already sporting a bronze-y summer glow. I hate them in the nicest of ways. More so when I glance down at my screaming white baker’s legs. There should be a beach designated for kitchen folk who seldom see the sunlight. We could all assemble beneath wide umbrellas the color of crayons, slathering ourselves in sunscreen while exchanging kitchen war stories.
This week’s war zone at work centers around those enroute to their holiday destinations, desperately seeking pie. It’s interesting to note that people who retreat to what Lucy Van Pelt refers to as a “summer palace,” feel the need to tell you so. Four out of five pie conversations began today prefaced by; “I need a pie because we’re leaving for the a) Hamptons, b) the lake, c) the Cape and d) the shore.” When they learn of the double-crusted choices offered, it’s never what they want. One would think that in the height of the summer season, nectarines, raspberries and blueberries would prove popular. There’s silence on the other end of the phone line or on the other side of the counter. They finally sigh and whine/ask, “What about apple? Will you have apple?”
Maybe it’s me, but nothing says summer like cold storage apples. Of course, there’s the antithesis of the July Apple Pie Patron who confided in me just today. “I need a pie to bring to a party. Honestly, I don’t care what’s in it, I’m just going to give it away.” I’m certain your host will be touched by your thoughtfulness, Madam. Might I suggest an empty aluminum pie plate?
In the workplace, I have narrowed down the pie offerings to Key Lime, Blueberry and Raspberry-Nectarine. On the home front, you will find me happily pitting cherries and cutting pieces of cold butter into flour for a batch of short-cut or rough puff pastry. Each fold of the dough is therapeutic, each ridiculous phone interaction eliminated with a roll of the pin. Another turn, and another until the shaggy flour and butter mixture morphs into a silky dough. Stay out of my way- I have big breakfast plans for this pastry.
On Saturday the morning of the 4th, I will don my most serious of pastry personas. Judging the annual ‘Village’ Bake-Off Competition is an arduous undertaking. Anticipating the red, white and blue baked goods that await, it is in my best interest to eat a sensible breakfast before leaving the house. A fresh cherry turnover will save me from the tables of Ready-to-Spread frosted flag cakes. It will provide sustenance so I can judge from a primarily visual approach, holding up my hand, signaling I couldn’t possibly taste another bite. “I’m sure it’s delicious. It certainly screams, 4th of July.”
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge my favorite patron of the week. Let’s call her, Woman in Oversized Sunglasses. The exchange went something like this,
Barista: “Can I help you?”
W in O S: “What kind of pies do you have for the 4th?”
Barista: “Key Lime. Blueberry. Raspberry-Nectarine.”
W in O S: Pause. Pause.
Barista: “Would you like to order something?”
W in O S: “Yes. Raspberry-Nectarine.” Pause. “What is Raspberry-Nectarine?”
No More Mr. Nice Pie: Silently screaming, “WHAT IS RASPBERRY-NECTARINE?!”
These are the moments I would miss if I was out of town, spending the weekend at my summer palace, where just like Ms. Van Pelt, I would wear my crown in swimming and everything… and ditch the bandana.
One of these days, I just might buy myself a queendom. Until then, bring on your most bedazzled baked goods. Here comes the judge.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm