I am considered a regular at the diner in my town. I am so regular that this past week, when the owner changed to winter hours that exclude Wednesday evenings, Alice, the owner, thought about calling me to tell me. Instead, I arrived to find a dark diner, an empty parking lot, and a hand lettered sign proclaiming the new winter hours. 

Tom is another regular. Tom loves pie. Tom would eat pie for every meal if his jeans would allow. I have watched him on several mornings travel the length of the counter to assess the pies available for tasting.

A few weeks ago, several in the diner decided to have a pie-off. Whoever wanted would make a pie for Tom to taste and Tom would decide whose pie was best.

I was in. It would be difficult to top Alice; I had bought my mincemeat pie for Thanksgiving from her, but I’m always up for a challenge.

I talked and thought about making a grape pie. Tom had never had one. I told of having made one, thirty years ago, when the house I then owned had a grape arbor. It was a delicious pie, but a lot of work considering each grape needed to be peeled and seeded and where would I find Concord grapes at this time of year? I don’t think I’ve ever seen Concord grapes for sale anywhere.

In the two weeks between the challenge concept and the actual event, I discovered a new recipe that screamed “winner” in the newspaper. The title said it all: Apricot Cranberry Walnut Pie.

The day of the event, I made the pie for the first time (dangerous, I know, but I was confident). I asked Son if he would drive me to the diner.

“Why?” he asked in a voice that pleaded to be released from this torture.

“So I can hold the pie.”

“Oh. Okay.” he acquiesced.

Eleven regulars or semi-regulars assembled in the diner’s back room. We each ordered dinner before allowing the pies to be cut and tasted.

Son sat at the end of the table, next to me, head bent over the electronic device he’d brought to keep him entertained. The vibes between Son and Mother were perceived as, “How much longer till we can leave?’

All seemed quickly forgiven when the pies were served.

Tom decided who won before taking a single bite, “Nancy won for best apple pie, Linda won for best whatever the name of that pie was.” and on through the list of all the pies.

Son took one bite of my pie and exclaimed, “Oh! Wow!”

For 25 years, I have lived in a household where, “It’s okay” is usually considered high praise. I knew I’d hit the mark.

I didn’t need Tom’s vote. I got a Son-endorsed blue-ribbon that will keep me flying for quite a while.

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