A Most Interesting Pie

About this pie.  It’s made from this recipe in response to an offhand remark from my son-in-law Dan that “everybody likes a good strawberry-rhubarb pie, don’t they?”   Apparently, a good number of people do, as 6,366 people have paused to look at this pie photo so far today on Flickr.

I’d shared the photo in Susannah Conway’s August Break 2014 Flickr group last night. This morning, a nice woman from Thailand commented on it and congratulated me on making it onto the Explore page.  I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant to be on the Explore page, so did some “exploring” of my own and discovered that the Explore page features that day’s 500–about .005%–of the most interesting photos chosen from the thousands that are loaded onto Flickr worldwide every day. The featured photos are selected by a mysterious “interestingnous” algorithm that invites ample speculation.

I can’t really tell you why this pie photo out of the tens of thousands plugged into the algorithm debuted at #106.  But I can tell you a little bit about the making of this pie.

Sydney and Dan are on break from their academic endeavors and came west to split time between their families.  We happened to have them with us on their second anniversary so invited a few family friends over to celebrate. One of them offered to pick up a favorite dessert on her way and asked for the feted couple’s favorites.  I posed the question to Sydney, she said she preferred cake to pie.  Later, with Dan in the room, after I’d already told my friend her preference, Sydney confessed that though she’d asked for cake she knew Dan preferred pie. He shrugged good-humouredly and said,  ”everybody likes a good strawberry-rhubarb pie, don’t they?”

The cake was consumed, a good time had by all, but I knew I had a killer strawberry-rhubarb pie recipe in my files and so the next day while the celebrated couple were in the South Bay visiting friends, I prepared some pie dough and asked M.J. to pick up strawberries and rhubarb on his way home from the city.  While waiting for the fruit, I rolled out half the crust, fitted it into the pie plate (why is it most often called a plate, rather than a dish or a pan?), then rolled out the other half and cut the butter and shortening-flecked dough into lattice strips.

Once the fruit was in hand, I  hulled and halved the strawberries, sliced the rhubarb, and tossed them with the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon before pouring the mixture into the dough-lined plate.  Then I quickly laid the lattice strips on top of the fruit–half in one direction, topped by the other half in the other direction–brushed the whole thing with an egg wash and popped it in the oven.

I’d forgotten how long this particular pie took to bake (nearly two hours) so I had time to see the A’s triumph over the Tampa Bay Rays in the 10th inning.  The bubbling pie (thank goodness I remembered to bake it on a foil covered cookie sheet) was set aside to cool overnight to be enjoyed for breakfast.

Later on that next day, after returning from dropping the kids off at the airport, I took a photo of the partially-eaten pie because it looked so lovely and because, truth-be-told, I needed to lift my spirits a bit after saying goodbye.  Then I loaded the photo onto Flickr. Today as my iPad dings the news that my pie photo has been marked as a “favorite” yet again, I’m thinking that having my photo deemed interesting by strangers and an anonymous algorithm isn’t the same as having some of the most interesting people in my life under my roof.  But it has cheered me, nevertheless.


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Kathryn Pritchett

writes about Things Elemental — where we find shelter, why we connect, what sustains us and how we strut our stuff.