Image Courtesy of Community Servings
As many of us settle into an annual case of pie panic, or are pushing back chairs after too much pumpkin and pecan, I have a trunk full of four perfect and beautiful pies--one apple, two pecan, two pumpkin. I only opted out of sweet potato.
Are these the best pies my family and friends--29, my cousin Jed, our genial host, informs me, down from the 32 my father mentioned when I saw him and my stepmother on Sunday--will ever have? Well, until next year, when I bring back more pies, all from different restaurants and bakeries. This year I plan to generously cut and serve three of the pies--and be very stingy with the the pecan one baked by Sofra, a new Turkish-themed bakery and restaurant whose chef, Ana Sortun, appeared in our video cooking her husband Chris Kurth's produce in her kitchen at Oleana restaurant. At Sofra, Maura Kilpatrick, her partner and pastry chef, makes pastries that are much too good, including chocolate-hazelnut baklava with cocoa honey; I can't wait to see what she does with pecans and (usually cloying, near-unbearable) corn syrup.
David Waters had the brilliant idea of tapping into America's collective fear of pie crusts, and I had a mandate never to make a pie again, at least not at Thanksgiving.
Milquetoast! you cry. Don't you know how to make a crust? Well, yes, I spent years as an obsessive, persistent pie crust maker, writing articles far more patient and and perfectionist than Choire Sicha's raucously funny "Stop Being A Wuss"pie-crust instructions this week. If my mother made pies every day for a month when she was first married to teach herself how, I could take many classes and make a crust nearly as light, and I documented my efforts in one of my first Atlantic columns. Every year I would dare my family, assembled at our Connecticut Thanksgiving, to say my late mother made a better pie crust (of course, she did).
But then David Waters had the brilliant idea of tapping into America's, or at least Boston's, collective fear of pie crusts, and I had a mandate never to make a pie again, at least not at Thanksgiving.
David, then head of fundraising for Community Servings, Boston's only home-delivered meals program for people homebound with AIDS and their families, thought that local restaurants and bakeries could donate pies that people too lazy or fearful--sorry, busy--to bake would happily pay for. Pie in the Sky, he said it should it be called. Proud pie crust bakers like me thought it an odd, marginal idea. Boy, was I wrong.
Today Pie in the Sky is one of our two most important fundraisers of the year--and as of the middle of Wednesday it had sold $420,000 worth of pies at $25 apiece, our biggest year ever. That's not just a lot of pies. It's dozens of restaurants, bakeries and, even more important, terrifically energetic and inventive volunteers who spend months marketing and organizing the mobilization that's just ending as I write. The event has come a long way from the days when I rented a station wagon to make emergency deliveries on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and called up large commercial bakers to twist their arms to supply pies at cost when our orders outran supplies.