Food With Friends: My life with pie

By Meaghan Sands

If you recall from last week, I was on a quest to make myself a Concord grape pie. In doing so I realized that it’s when you endeavor on a culinary mission such as this that you realize cooking, baking and eating are like life.

You go on the journey knowing where you’re headed, but not knowing in what state you’ll get there. You do what you can to make it all work out, but there always seems to be some force vying against you.

Your food comes out cold, you kindly ask for a fresh dish. A beloved restaurant receives a “C” from the health department; you try to convince yourself it’s not that bad. A friend you decide to take out to eat gives the establishment you raved about a scathing review; you tell yourself their palate is untrained.

Moments like these attempt to veer us off our path. Distract and discourage us from the mission at hand. However, sometimes it can be these exact moments that make the journey so exciting.

On my quest for the perfect Concord grape pie I ran into a number of hiccups. There was the usual time delay that comes when trying an unfamiliar recipe for the first time and of course some pie crust troubles. However, the force leading the rally against me came from the star ingredient: the Concord grape.

I found none.

So how is it that I made a Concord grape pie without Concord grapes?

I didn’t. Let us call this pie a mockery in the most delicious sense.

My quest for these deep purple grapes led me to every grocery store and produce market surrounding my home. I even asked my neighbors if they knew anyone hoarding a grape vine in their back yard, but to no avail.

So I soon decided, with the help of a lovely lady named Grandma, that I would make a pie with the darkest grapes I could find.

And so was born my black table grape pie. Doesn’t it sound sinister?

This was not the ending I was looking for, but it brought about such interesting conversations.

During my hunt for Concord grapes I was able to speak with a few of my neighbors, as well as my Grandma, about the fall season. During these short conversations I was given a glimpse of what this time of the year meant to them.

Grandma reminisced about strawberry rhubarb pies and apples, apples, and more apples.

One neighbor spoke of delicious mincemeat and raisin pies that her mother used to make.

Another neighbor, who so kindly let me borrow her antique piecrust recipe, laughed while retelling how the recipe is from an ex-boyfriend’s mother.

It was stories such as these, combined with the time my Grandma and I spent piecing the crumbling dough together, that made this journey so exciting.

True, I wasn’t able to make a Concord grape pie. True, I also wasn’t able to report back to you on how amazing it was. But what is also true is that my mockery of a pie came out tasting pretty good and I have some wonderful stories to go along with it.

So maybe what’s important to talk about isn’t always the best-aged cheddar cheese or the most exotic thing you’ve ever eaten. Maybe what is important is how we can relate food to life and our experiences.

Don’t get me wrong; I will continue my stroll through the flavors of fall. I’ll talk about squash, rutabaga and quince. However, I will not get so caught up in the item that I loose sight of the bigger picture.

Food is a powerful thing. It encompasses so much and it’s meaning varies. Maybe that’s why the saying “food for thought was coined.” Probably not, but it does make sense.

The next time you sit down to eat, whether at home or in a restaurant, think about the way the atmosphere, the food and the people you’re sharing with make you feel.

As you walk along the rows of a local farmer’s market take the opportunity to chat with a vendor about where the produce comes from or how a product is made.

The stories that can unfold when we share food experiences with friends can be exciting, ironic and informative. Even better, they can bridge divides and bring us closer to the ones we care about.

So until next time, eat well or die trying and tune in for a good story.

Food With Friends

Food With Friends

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