How Williams Sonoma Forced Me To Learn to Bake Pie
July 21, 2013
I am a chocolate cake kind of a girl. Gooey. Fudgy. Multi-layer. Frosting-heavy.
Three weeks after meeting my husband, when I was still pretty sure that he was just a (very) sexy Israeli soldier on a (very) temporary jaunt through my then home of San Francisco, he had a birthday. Always the baker and very much a flirt at the time, I offered to make him a homemade chocolate birthday cake, my specialty. With a dismissive wave of his hand, he replied that he much prefers pie, and wouldn't I bake him a birthday pie instead?
Excuse me, a birthday pie? No, that's just wrong. Birthdays are for cakes, am I wrong? Besides, I had no idea how to bake a pie. I'm from Wisconsin. Pies are for bake sales. Birthdays are cake occasions.
Ego, especially in dating, does funny things to people. I could not possibly admit to my formerly tank commanding, M-16 toting temporary house guest that I was afraid of pie. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. I winked, declared it taken care of, and got creative.
Frozen Pillsbury pie crust was purchased the following day at my local grocer. A San Francisco hipster for two years already, at least I knew where to shop. Down to the Embarcadero Center Williams Sonoma I skipped, purchasing the most gourmet pie filling I could find. Home again on the cable car (what an adorable life I was leading) I "whipped together" (read: thaw pie crust, pour contents of jar, throw second crust on the top, bake) the most mouth-watering of pies in time for his arrival from the temp job he scored. (See? I had every reason to believe that he was temporary.)
Two bites in, he declared me the best pie baker he had ever come across (How many pie bakers did this man know?) and proceeded to brag to everyone he knew about my culinary prowess. Done, done and done! Look how smart and impressive I was!
The relationship (in part thanks to the pie, no doubt) blossomed and we moved together to Israel several months later. Get ready for the bite in the ass.
Apparently, one has birthdays yearly. As I had never expected to celebrate another of his birthdays alongside my sexy Israeli tank commander, I didn't anticipate a repeat of the pie request. As his birthday drew near, he began bragging again, now to friends who we both knew, about the upcoming fabulous pie, and how he'll be sure to share it this time.
There is no Williams Sonoma in Israel.
We worked in the same firm. We lived together. I had to strategize how to place my clandestine international phone call (hello, international begging) to Williams Sonoma in order to have them FedEx me some of that gourmet pie filling on the fly.
Given the time difference, I found myself on the floor of our tiny basement living room in the middle of the night, whispering frantically to some suspicious Williams Sonoma store employee on the phone. She kept asking me to speak up. Clearly that was an impossibility. I felt like Sally Field in Not Without My Daughter, pleading with the American Embassy. The woman eventually hung up on me, since she couldn't hear me clearly and could not understand why I wanted pie filling FedExed internationally. She did manage to quote me $78 ($8 for the pie filling, $70 for overnight international shipping.)
I was sunk.
I sat with the phone in my lap, in tears, knowing that my baking reputation was about to blow up in my face. Like I said, ego, in dating, does funny things to people.
He wandered out of our bedroom, bleary-eyed, to find me crumpled, in tears, clutching the phone. He thought someone had died.
I blubbered out the story, admitted that I couldn't bake a pie to save my life, I hadn't a year ago, and I couldn't now. I was so ashamed I couldn't look him in the face. Not only a baking failure, I was a liar. A pie liar.
My initially one-week-stand, then boyfriend, now husband - giggled. It's kind of funny to watch a 6 foot, 230 pound solider giggle. Initially I was ashamed and horrified, but I finally gave in to the absurdity of the situation and snickered along with him. Both of us sat on the floor in the darkened apartment breaking out into fits of hysteria, and I knew there was no judgement.
"Well," he said, "I think it's time to learn how to bake pie."
My first three attempts were pathetic, the fourth and fifth edible, and the sixth - divine. Now, I am known for every kind of pie you can imagine (both sweet and savory) as well as quiches with crust and without. This year, I made him a Birthday Cobbler.
Thanks, Williams Sonoma, for forcing me to face my pie ineptitude, head on.