My last piece of her pie

by - September 23, 2015 after I wrote Monday's post, I texted Kyla for word help.  I told her about my loss of the word that I wanted and her suggestions were nostalgic or déjà-vu...I gave her the fill in the blank: at Christmas, the smell of traditional foods is ______ '.  She then gave me "yummy".   She was immediately fired.
Dan's first response for suggestion was déjà-vu as well and then he went all google-happy and started using sciencey words.  Which wasn't what I was looking for.  I then called Mom who went all thesaurus on me and then started googling articles and reading.  She couldn't come up with my missing word. And then she called me back with more suggestions, telling told me stories about the smell of Dove soap would remind her of her Grandmother's bathroom.
So many good things come from blogging, I tell ya.
Anyway, her words were reminiscent and redolent.
Dan's sister, Monique, texted me yesterday with some science words, but also gave me wistful, which I liked.

At any rate, I wanted that word for today's post because it's a special post: Foods that remind me of fall.  Well, the first thing that came to mind was pie: pumpkin, apple, you name it and man, oh man, do I have one special pie sitting in my fridge.

You see, when my Grams passed away in December, she left a house that she was still living in, packed with treasures and memories of her.  It took 4 months of sorting, organizing, trashing and donating by my Aunt, Uncle, Mom and Dad until finally, it sold and just like that, the house that Grandpa build 60 years ago, was no longer in our family.

In the freezer were some of her pies and this past weekend, my mom brought me my last piece of Grandma's apple pie.  There's nothing that tastes like fall more than her pie.

The thing is, I could taste it without even having to eat it.  It was that word.
I know the texture of her crusts and the sweetness of the apples within.  The spice would be just right; it always tastes exactly the same every time.
And it is perfect.
So I took out the pie, with the intention of having my last piece of her pie.  But I couldn't do it.  It is my last true piece of something she made with those soft, sweet hands.  I just couldn't.  So it will sit in my freezer until I'm ready to part with it, but now, is not the time.

If there is anything to be gained from this is the great conversation that was had around a word that went missing, a word that could describe how that one taste of Grams' pie would immediately rush back all the memories of her scuttling around the kitchen, being the busiest of busy-bodies around.  With one taste, I would be brought back to a time when we were spoiled by a very special lady and because I couldn't put that into words, how about this passage that I found in my brief research of olfactorific words:

In Marcel Proust’s novel Swann’s Way, the first volume of Remembrance of Things Past, the narrator describes a day when he broke from his afternoon habit to have a cake called a petite madeleine dissolved in tea. “I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake,” he writes. “A shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place.” A feeling of “all-powerful joy” filled him; he knew it was connected to the tea and cake, but not how. He dug through his mind. Eventually, a memory emerged from the distant past. “The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday morning at Combray … my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea.” Once he recognized the flavor, it all came back: “the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann’s park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and its surroundings, taking their proper shapes and growing solid, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, from my cup of tea.”
Proust was fascinated with time and memory. In this famous passage, he describes how a flavor drags his character back to the past. Recent research has found the science to support Proust’s observations. The memories associated with smell — and the flavor of a food comes mostly from its smell — are more emotional and more likely to come from early life than memories evoked by other senses. 

That, my friends, is the word I was looking for.  Something to describe that feeling.
Maybe it was nostalgic in the end.

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  1. this post is so sweet and sad at the same time :( save the pie until your ready, enjoy it with a glass of wine (and probably a few tears) and consider it an ode to the wonderful woman you love and miss so much. And THEN, get on a mission to make a pie just the way she did, so you can share that with your littles and tell stories of your gram. xo

  2. What a touching post. You can feel the love you have for grams. Save that pie for a day that you miss her and then devour it. I bet you could make a very similar pie, something tells me you have the recipe, probably in her handwriting. Hugs.

  3. And now I'm crying AGAIN. Beautiful, funny, and so well written. Wish I could have met your Grams.

  4. Aw I love this. Well, I never was close to either of my grandmothers. One lived far away, and was estranged for a period of time. And the other was always just eh weird. I am envious of those who had great grandparents!

  5. Well, thanks for the early morning tears. I agree with Christy and Shaunacey - Eat it when you are ready. That being said, if your Grandma is anything like mine, she will kick your butt if you leave it in the freezer too long and it spoils before you get to eat it! Lucky for you, I think that pie will be good for many years. Make sure you store it in something locked tight so it doesn't get that freezer taste. And I love the idea of making her pie and sharing it with your kids and Grandkids.

    Oh and one last thing. . . . I absolutely loved your voice in the opening banter. So fun to read! Love that you fired Kyla (exactly what I would do with my sister) and that Dan when sciencey on you (surprise, surprise).

  6. So glad you shared this...I remember my mom talking about this very thing after my grandma passed away. Mom had several of her pies in their freezer. Just love this post, friend!!

  7. Thanks...I think recreating it is a fantastic idea!

  8. you bet ya, I sure do have a recipe somewhere in her writing

  9. You make me smile. Thanks for this.

  10. She would have loved chatting your ear off!

  11. I like it! I now have an abundance of awesome words to use!

  12. This is such a wonderful post. It reminded me of my own grandma - who was not a baker, but of whom I do have many food-induced memories. Isn't it amazing how tastes and smells can invoke such strong, powerful feelings?


  13. "I carry your heart with me, I carry it in my heart"... ee cummings. I am sure a little bit of your grandmother's heart is in that delicious pie but a whole lot more is in your heart. Maybe you can enjoy and delight in the pie, on bite a year. The word I thought of was transcendent. Beautiful, bittersweet post, Deena.


Have a lovely day!