The solemnity of Memorial Day tends to get overlooked in our enthusiasm for summer. This weekend it’s all about barbeques and sunscreen, oversized sunglasses and getting out of town. If you live in the Garden State and you’re lucky, chances are quite favorable that you will be spending Memorial Day weekend ‘down the shore.’ This translates to braving bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Garden State Parkway. Your dream is to secure a beach towel’s worth of sand in an overcrowded seaside town. Both bay and ocean will be in the offing, plus plenty of mini golf and frozen custard. Further south, Maryland-ers will be spending their weekend ‘down the ocean’ plying themselves with crab claws dredged in Old Bay seasoning.
My weekend will be spent at a bakers’ bench crouched over pie shells. I will take some time away from the bench, heading ‘down the bakery basement’ to gather flats of fresh berries from a low-ceilinged walk-in. Before ascending the wooden stairs, I’ll grab a few aluminum pie plates for good measure. Memorial Day weekend reminds us to unearth our white shoes from the depths of our closet but more importantly, it's the kickoff to summer pie season.
There is something enormously satisfying about witnessing the shift in season from spring to summer. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the bakery’s walk-in refrigerator. Wooden crates of Pink Lady apples continue to take up valuable real estate and Washington State pears still refuse to ripen. This weekend however, there’s a dramatic shift in color palate. We’ve reached the glorious time of year when it’s all about the berries and the ‘barb. Metro shelving is stacked dangerously high with scarlet fruit and clamshells of purple. Every time you enter the walk-in, it’s impossible to mistake the season. Sure, I’m still tripping over cases of oat milk, whacking my elbow on milk crates, but for the most part, the walk-in feels colorized, less black and white.
Summer pie-ing is risky business, the bounty of fruit totally dependent upon the weather. I am reminded that local strawberries and fragile raspberries are victims of both excessive heat and pelting rain. Behind every six cups of berries tumbling into a pie shell are the hands that transferred those berries from field to consumer. That’s pretty humbling. I hope I don’t screw it up.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm