THE PIES OF SUMMER
A tidal wave of fruit has crossed the threshold of the bakery. Arriving by the case and demanding immediate attention, apricots, nectarines, early peaches and sour cherries are vying for valuable pie plate real estate. It’s a challenge, demanding many hands on deck to peel and pit, slice and sweeten. The true fruit warriors are those who fear not the 25 pound boxes of sour cherries. Wearing two pairs of non-breathable food service gloves, we dive in. Cherry pitting is highly personal. Commercial pitters are available, but from my side of the bench, I prefer the paring knife score/twist/thumb pit removal method. What makes cherry pitting incredibly rewarding is realizing at the conclusion of the process that you have somewhere to be that very evening. Nothing says “How do you do?” quite the way extending your crimson stained hand does. “My line of work? Oh, nothing out of the ordinary. Let’s just call it fruit forensics. But enough about me…”
When the crafting of a pie requires so much labor, you become strangely attached. I watch from a distance as the pie boxes leave the building. It is evident just in the way a person carries the box if they are worthy. Are they holding it level? Is it tilting precariously? Have they, heaven forbid, set their iced latte smack on top of the steaming window box? Perish the thought that a freshly baked pie may be locked in an overheated car. One would think the very least a responsible consumer would do is crack the box and the windows.
Living vicariously through lattice-topped fruit is somehow comforting during these dog days of summer. With the thermometer outside registering 90 degrees, the tropical conditions experienced within the bakery are rather stifling, particularly when sharing space with a convection oven. For entertainment, I find myself living vicariously through the lattice-topped fruit. Just last week, an affable fellow stopped by the bakery to place an order. As in previous years, he was flying to Yosemite for a week of fly-fishing with a few good friends. Joining him on holiday were two blueberry, one apple/cherry and one nectarine/raspberry pie. Waving goodbye to the pies and reminding them to wear plenty of sunscreen, I wondered, how would they ever clear security? Clearly it wasn’t an issue because Yosemite Sam (not his real name) returned yesterday and said the pies were a big hit. Maybe they were, but the least they could have done was drop me a postcard.
Another trio of fruit en croute headed off to a company picnic yesterday while a sour cherry number was seashore bound. “Bye bye little pies! Safe journey. I’ll miss you…” It’s been suggested to me that the early signs of heat stroke should not be ignored. I will heed this sage advice.
In the quietude of my home kitchen, there is a pineapple standing proudly on the counter and a lovely bowl of cherries by its side. Do I want dessert? Indeed I do. Dare I turn on the oven? Perhaps. As for the pineapple, it begs for a serious splash or two of rum. I have just the recipe and just the recipient.
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Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm