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Thursday, January 05, 2006 

Pumpkin Pie Tales

Here is a first draft of my short story "Pumpkin Pies". Critique away!

I come from a family that takes food seriously. How seriously do you ask? Let’s just say that certain members of my family have still not gotten over the fact that an aunt put green peas in her white rice. This even occurred in 1995. Eleven years later certain family members continue to spin this tale to any one who tells then that they are going to have dinner with the other half of the family. “Watch out”, they say. “She once put green peas in her white rice”. This warning speaks volumes about how strongly Puerto Ricans feel about their rice. It’s the holy grail of their existence. Any woman (or man) who can master the perfect rice making technique is spoken of as if they were personally responsible for discovering Puerto Rico. I bet they get a shrine put up in the native town.
“Mira aqui Carmela. Here is the arroz tribute to Dona Ramona.”
“Ah si, Maria. That woman made a mean arroz blanco”.
If you attempt to tackle the dish and fail, diners at your table spin tales about your failure that are passed on from generation to generation.

This past Thanksgiving I was going to my aunt’s for dinner. Yes, the same Green Peas aunt. Usually I never ask if they need me to bring anything but this time for some unknown reason I did. My aunts usually take care of everything and make so much food we could feed an entire block in Brooklyn. So I was shocked when she suggested that I bring a pumpkin pie.
“A pumpkin pie?” I asked to make sure I heard correctly.
“Yes”, she restated. “A pumpkin pie”.
“Ok”, I replied.
My aunt continued, “Last year my sister brought a pumpkin pie from Entermann’s and it was so awful. It ruined your uncle’s Thanksgiving”.
“Ruined? Isn’t that a bit extreme?” I thought to myself.
“You can get one from a bakery,” she continued. But you’ll have to order it a few days in advance because they are likely to be sold out if you wait to long.” ordered my aunt. “Oh and don’t get one from a supermarket those are awful”.
Crap. Now I have to find a bakery in my part of New Jersey. I don’t even know where the closet one is. That’s what I wanted to say. What I said instead was “Ok, I’ll take care of it”.
“Good” she says. “See you and K Thursday”. She then hung up the phone.

I had exactly two days before the big event and I needed to figure out how to get a pumpkin pie that would be acceptable to my family and not get me not only uninvited to next year’s dinner but ruin my reputation. I thought about tracking down a bakery and placing a last minute order then having to pick them up on the way home from work. “Forget that,” I said, “I might as well make one”. What! What did I just say? Was I on crack? What if I failed miserably and then was the laughing stock of Thanksgiving tales for the next twenty years. But I am not one who walks away from a challenge. Plus, how hard could it be?

Little did I know.

About me

  • I'm DivineMsN
  • From Land of the Jersey Hair, New Joisey, United States
  • NYC girl who has away for awhile but somehow managed to make it back across the Mason-Dixon Line. Now living in NJ at least for the foreseeable future.
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