Friday, June 19, 2009

Jumbleberry Pie


During the summer of 1991, I was living in Dutchess County, New York, soaking up sun in the Hudson Valley. It would be my last summer there, as I was heading into my senior year in college and already knew that I would be moving on to do other things after graduation. At this time, I was involved with a local man who was nine years my senior (I've posted about him here and here). He was self-employed and didn't work traditional hours so we got to spend a lot of time together. Things were still good between us that summer, easygoing; we took care of each other, which also meant taking care of each other's friends. One friend of his in particular (I'll call him "Adman") worked and lived in the city during the week; each Friday he would take the train from Manhattan to Rhinecliff, New York, and my boyfriend and I would go pick him up. The three of us fell into a routine that suited us all quite well. With summer hours in play, Adman would come up a little earlier, and we'd drive from the train station to the pale blue house—historically a home for boys—where I had my apartment. Out in front was a communal wood picnic table, which usually no one used. With the temperature dropping just enough to be comfortable outside at the end of the afternoon, we'd set up for a meal that I had prepared. I don't remember any of the main dishes I made, and of the desserts, only one. But that one came to represent all of summer to me: Jumbleberry Pie. It was a recipe I'd found in the July 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine. In fact, I just looked it up online, and you can find the same recipe I made, here, on Epicurious. Jumbleberry pie had a name I loved, and the recipe's picture showed deep purple fruit oozing from between the pie's double crust. I remember that this particular summer, I was teaching myself how to bake all kinds of pies. Pies were not something that my mom made at home—together we made cookies and cakes, sometimes other desserts, but not pies. Pies, however, are the perfect vehicle for summer's berry harvest. I remember in that same Dutchess County kitchen, I made whole-wheat-crust blueberry pie, peach custard pie, my paternal grandmother's fresh strawberry pie. In the fall of course, with all the orchards there were around, I made plenty of apple pies as well. Jumbleberry pie, though, was the tops, an unqualified success; a jammy blend of blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries, all at the height of their flavor and so naturally sweet, I could reduce the sugar in the recipe and no one would be the wiser. So on this particular summer Friday, shy of twenty-two years, you could find me dusting the flour from my denim cut-offs, the stain of fresh berries still on my fingers, working to feed two guys past thirty and reveling in their calls for seconds, for the rest of the pie "to go," when we'd eaten our fill in the slanting sunlight, swatting away the yellowjackets and listening to the crickets. Darkness would set in, and with the extra pie wrapped up, we'd pile back in the car, drive across the Hudson to Saugerties, where we'd drop Adman off, confirming plans for the weekend, maybe water skiing. My guy and I would head back to our side of the river, back to my apartment, where we'd do the dishes together, standing closer than necessary, and there was a feeling of happy domesticity that I mistook at the time for an eternal quality of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment