The Voice of Pie
By Christopher L. Morrow
I knew that after three or four rings my eighty-nine-year-old grandfather would answer, and I would be greeted by a gruff “Hello.” I knew that his tone would soften and a smile would leak into his voice with “Hey, Topher,” when he heard my voice. I knew that he would be happy to hear from me. But, most of all, I knew he wouldn’t be able to help me.
Around me were all the necessary ingredients to make a chocolate meringue pie. Dough rolled out, resting on the flour-dusted table. Eggs, butter, sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, cornstarch, and whole milk. There is probably nothing more cliché than loving a grandmother’s pie but, at the same time, there may be nothing that links so many of us together as the stories behind such clichés. These pies and their stories are something we can all share. Growing up, I spent summers with my grandparents. My parents were nineteen and seventeen when I was born and looking back I think this was my grandparents’ way of giving them a break from pressures of young parenthood. Each summer I witnessed a parade of my extended family, each with their own favorite dish from grandmother: Fried chicken for my uncle, potato salad for my cousin, biscuits and gravy for my dad, and pies for everyone, pecan, chocolate meringue, coconut cream, buttermilk pie, and even the occasional lemon. She showered love on us through her cooking. And, of course, I got to eat it all. Perhaps that is why I never named a favorite— each summer I was at the epicenter of hearty, but certainly not heart-healthy, southern cooking—where a stick of butter or a giant spoonful of bacon grease started just about every recipe. From toddler to teenager, I buzzed around her kitchen every summer, snitching dough without permission, licking bowls and beaters with permission, and happily gobbling up whatever fried delicacy was offered to me
About the Author
Christopher L. Morrow is an associate professor of English at Western Illinois University, where he teaches Shakespeare and textual studies. His critical essays have appeared in journals such as Studies in English Literature: 1500-1900, South Central Review and Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America. He currently resides in western Illinois with his wife and two boys where he is an avid cyclist, hobby board gamer and occasional pie maker.
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