You know what’s American?
Pie. I should know. I love pie. In fact, I’ve tried practically every pie on the face of the planet (this includes pear pie, avocado pie, eggnog pie, cantaloupe cream pie, Kool-Aid pie, nectarine pie, zucchini pie, pomegranate pie, and even bacon bourbon pecan pie. My mom loved variety.)
Therefore, after four weeks in Italy, my homemade desserts being an endless row of lifeless Tiramisu and dry biscotti, I felt like I was going to go crazy. I had to have some pie. Homemade pie. AMERICAN BETTY CROCKER APPLE PIE.
It was the worst craving I’d gotten since my arrival in Italy. Worst even than my desire for deep dish pizza. Worst even than my incredible homesickness. I felt like my stomach was going to implode if I didn’t have a bit of something succulent, apple-y, and soggy… NOW!
So, Guido and I decided to make an American Apple pie.
My excuse to mia madre: “It would be a wonderful sharing of cultures for me to bake a pie!” (this was said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster on a stomach that was trying to invert itself).
Even though my cooking abilities were never stellar (let’s just say it took me many years to graduate past “baking” toast) I set up shop in mia madre’s kitchen by laying out an array of American cooking cups that I had brought with me. Guido (who Mia Madre had agreed to let in the house as long as he was clean) sat on the counter and admired his reflection in the toaster.
I’d found the easiest recipe I could find- one that involved a premade crust that you cooked and then dumped apples inside of. It was nowhere near the caliber of my Mom’s pies but it would work.
STEP 1: TURN ON OVEN
ME: Take that, oven!
ME: See? I can cook.
Step 3: CHOP APPLES.
ME: Look at me go!
STEP 4: REMOVE STOREBOUGHT CRUST FROM OVEN.
ME: Evil sense of satisfaction is growing!
Step 5: MIX SUGAR, CINNAMON, FLOUR, SALT AND COMBINE WITH APPLES. PUT IN CRUST.
At this point my brain had started to reach its straining point. See, the reason why I’ve never been a very good cook is because I simply can’t enjoy mixing random grainy things together for very long. I want instant satisfaction. I want something warm and yummy.
I can’t count the times in middle school where I would come home starving and set to work making the most delicious chocolate chip cookies ever and then… got tired after cracking the first few eggs and abandoned the messy globs, instead consolidating myself with some stale Oreos.
Such could have been the case of my apple pie experiment, as I was painstakingly scooping the ingredients into the crust like an unwound toy, had Guido not intervened and starting scooping up tiny granules and stuffing them in his mouth like a chipmunk. I was so bemused by this that I didn’t even notice what was coming out Guido’s OTHER END into the fresh pie crust.
Unfortunately, at the same time as Mia Madre and ALL of her friends from church walked through the door.
Mia Madre: Look? My little American and her mouse are baking! Isn’t it sweet?
Me: (in panic; trying to desperately cover the disaster and unfortunately forgetting all of my Italien) heh, heh… urm… well…
Mia Madre: And just in time for my friends to have a taste! Let’s try it while it’s still hot!
Me: No, that’s definitely not a very good ide…
Before I could do anything—even scoop out a bit of retched contents, which I’m sure must have resembled tiny chocolate chips-- Mia Madre had scooped up the contents of the pie and was dishing up slices to every last one of her friends. I flew in a crazed frenzy around the room, desperately trying to convince them not to try it…
…while Guido sat on my shoulder with a sort of smug satisifaction as if he were saying “See? Any mouse can cook.”
I guess it would be unfair not to tell you that Mia Madre and her friends all ADORED “the American’s” pie (I politely refused a piece when they offered it to me) and all asked me for the recipe—which I gave in English, minus the “Secret Ingredient”.
For the next week I huddled in my room convinced that I would soon have the mafia or the police coming to my door and arresting me for poisoning all the nice little housewives in the city. My craving for pie had disappeared as I saw my future melting like a puddle of apple goo!
Guido, however, seemed strangely satisfied by his newfound cooking skills. For a whole week I kept finding him just sitting dreamily by himself in the kitchen and staring at the toaster (I still don’t know what mia madre thought about this).
And thus, Guido and I managed to create the most unusual/weird/disgusting pie in the history of sh*tty pies.
Forever live Mus Pie.
Guido’s Widsom: Vive per sempre la torta di topi