The word on the street this week is Mother. Like most retail holidays, the bakery is up to its ears in sugar, butter and flour. I am fighting an onslaught of rhubarb and strawberries. Lopping off poisonous leaves from stalks of pinky-green rhubarb gives a girl time to think. A formerly white high-density plastic cutting board is splashed in crimson, reminiscent of a Law and Order crime scene.
In an attempt to accommodate all of Mom’s needs, the front counter will be offering a little something for everyone. If you are a Mom with dietary frailties, we’ve got you covered. Both the gluten free banana bread and dairy free zucchini bread fairies have been toiling overtime this week. There are also scones with a modest hit of sugar and a healthy blend of brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca starch. What better way to celebrate your mother than with a heartfelt splash of xanthan gum. If you have recently broken up with sugar, might I suggest drowning your sorrows in a bracing cup of black coffee or an iced cup of cold brew.
This week a perfectly agreeable woman asked me how much sugar goes into the pies. I replied that it depends on the pie. It’s a little bit like children, each one unique in their own way. Certain pies need more sweetening than others, (rhubarb for example) but I would be hard pressed to love one more than another.
Rhubarb requires a steady hand with the sugar; too little and the pie will be screaming tart, too much and the bright flavor of spring will be lost beneath a tidal wave of sweetness. It’s a delicate dance, to be sure. I credit my mother for instilling in me a love of rhubarb, for encouraging me to wander outside my frosted flakes sweetened comfort zone. Maybe that’s why I always preferred the pucker of lemon filling to the swirl of toasted meringue on a slice of pie.
I honestly don’t remember food struggles and ingredients being the source of conversation in my childhood. We certainly never stood in line at the Cedarhurst Bake Shop pondering gluten free anything. My nose pressed against the glass, the array of Barbie-doll birthday cakes festooned in buttercream roses was staggering. My mother would point to a seeded rye bread and we waited while the baker sent the loaf through a rumbling slicer then eased it perfectly intact into a white paper bag. Still slightly warm and fragrant with caraway, I nibbled on the very end piece of the loaf as we walked to the car, one of us in fashionable high heels, the other in sensible white Keds.
Food trends are as fickle as fashion and hairstyles, but memories created over food are steadfast. Forgive me Mom, if I throw caution to the wind and bake you something riddled with sugar, butter and all-purpose flour. As for the high heels, you wore them best; I’m better suited to kitchen clogs and running shoes. Happy Mother’s Day.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm