People grieve in many different ways. Recently, my nana, who was 98, passed away. I’m not sure I can quite explain how her death has impacted me. It’s been such a strange roller coaster of emotions for me. Nana was a difficult grandmother to have. She was the master of the back handed compliment and her passive aggressive comments about my weight over the course of my life did quite a number on my psyche.
One of my strongest memories of her was after taking me on a shopping trip (which she did every summer when I’d go and stay with her), she turned to me and said, “You know, you’d be so pretty if you just lost weight.” I tried so hard to hear the part where she thought I was at least remotely pretty, but all I could hear was the “fatty” part of it.
Comments like this probably make her seem like a horrible grandmother, especially since that while I was a bit overweight as a child/teen, I have never been actually obese. But comments like these are only one side of my nana (if a very, very vocal side). On the other hand, Nana played Uno for hours with me. She bought me rye toast (which I loved) and made it for me every morning for breakfast. She let me play with the antique dolls. She got me dance lessons when I wanted them. She bought me Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth perfume and a pair of LA Gear high tops. She cried every time I had to go back home.
One thing she never let me do, however, was eat sweets. Dessert was never an option at Nana’s house. Not for me, and not for my mom when she was growing up. Like me, my mom has some major food issues and they all point directly back to Nana. Unlike me, however, my mom and my nana were never close and had a very antagonistic relationship. I could forgive my nana a lot because I only had to see her once a year when I was a kid and half a dozen as a grown up (and always on my terms). My mom was not so lucky and has a lot more baggage.
When my nana got sick, my mom flew in from North Carolina to stay with her, so when my nana passed away, Mom was staying at her house. I came up the day before the funeral to help my mom out. I had to stay the night, but Nana’s house only has two bedrooms and there was no way I was sleeping in her bed. I told my mom I was getting a hotel. She loved the idea and offered to pay for us to have a night away from everything. I think we both needed it.
On our way to the hotel, my mom spied a Baker’s Square. Neither of us had eaten at one for years, but as we neared it, my mom quietly asked if we could stop and get pie. I looked at her kind of oddly and said, “of course we can get pie.” She looked at me very seriously and said, “oh my God, we can get pie. We can get all the pie we want and we don’t have to hide it or pretend we don’t eat it or get scolded for it.” In that moment, I realized my mom was having a rather profound grown up moment. After over 60 years, she was finally 100% free to live life on her terms.
I swung into that parking lot and boldly announced: WE CAN HAVE ALL THE PIE!
And we did.
We struggled a bit with the pie menu because it is rather enormous. On any given day they have over 2 dozen pies to pick from. That is a LOT of pressure for your first true taste of freedom. We were both a little overwhelmed. I pointed out a few that sounded tempting and my mom ordered them. Then she kept ordering. Since we both wanted to try the French Silk and the Caramel Pecan Silk, I thought we might be sharing them. But no, my mom was so giddy with her new found freedom, that she ordered us both pieces. We also each got a slice of lemon pie. Mine was Lemon Supreme and hers was Lemon Meringue (I hate meringue).
We may have gotten more than a little tipsy that evening as we talked through years of pent up feelings and emotional scars. And then we started in on the pie. I placed all three of my pies in front of me and began to nibble, taking a few bites of each before switching over to the next one.
The Lemon Supreme was fantastically tart. Without all that nasty meringue to muck it up, it was pretty great. It’s basically a light cheesecakey bottom with a layer of tart lemony gel on top. Add a few dollops of whipped cream and it’s a light (it taste and texture, not calories) treat perfect for summer.
The Caramel Pecan Silk was also pretty tasty, however, it had a bit much going on with it to be truly spectacular. It looked a bit like pecan pie on the bottom layer, but didn’t have quite the taste or consistency of it. Next was a layer of what they call “supreme filling,” which is a bit cheesecake-like. It’s lighter than a full on cheesecake, but similar enough in both taste and texture to immediately remind me of one. Then there is a French Silk layer. Separately I am a huge fan of all three of these, but together they were a bit too much of a hybrid for me. Not that I didn’t eat it all eventually.
To no surprise, my absolute favorite was the French Silk. I have always been a French Silk girl. There is little I love more in life than any sort of chocolate pie, but a chocolate silk pie???? That is just heaven on a plate. And this one was really good. It was light, it was airy, it was the perfect blend of chocolate and cream. It was simply amazing. It was the only piece I actually finished that night. The other two got partially eaten and stuck in the mini fridge. Don’t worry, I made sure to eat them for breakfast.
I have to say that although I really did like the pie, my judgement may be a bit biased on this one. Those were so much more than simple slices of pie for my mom and me. They were much needed bonding and a healthy does of freedom. Turns out that freedom tastes pretty darn good.