If somebody offers you a free pie, you might want to think twice.
Last week, a group in the office throws a late afternoon happy hour. On the menu – beer, cupcakes and pie. Don’t look at me. I didn’t plan the menu. Maybe the pairing of snacks and beverages wasn’t optimal, but the sweets were top of the line – pumpkin pie, and pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting from the Magnolia Bakery. Yes, cupcake fans, Magnolia has opened a new midtown branch just down the street from the office. My administrative assistant is VERY worried about my waistline.
But, I digress. Due to the fact that the noshes and the beverages, didn’t exactly … uh, mesh, there were some leftovers – several gorgeous pumpkin pies. So, a very nice colleague named Sophia suggested I take one home. I was unsure for a second, since I had a theater engagement that evening, but decided that free pie doesn’t come along every day, and I could figure out how to pack the pie securely for the trip from Midtown Manhattan to suburban Long Island.
So, there I am, walking down the hallway with my boxed pie, feeling like I won the lottery, thankful for my colleague Sophia, and thankful for my free pumpkin pie. I pass by a few colleagues.
“Did you take that pie?” one of them asks.
I shrug off the comment, since most New Yorkers are an obsessively suspicious lot.
I arrive back at my office. My office neighbor “Danbury,” an aristocrat from Connecticut, gives me an accusing glare.
“Did you steal that pie?” he demands.
“It was a gift!” I insist.
I am now feeling like a criminal and thoroughly demoralized. Not one, but two people have taken what was a lovely holiday gesture and turned it into an incident worthy of the Fox News – “The Executive and the Purloined Pie – Film at 11!!!” Secretly, I am feeling a little guilty, because I had been contemplating a blog post on how one can eat for free for days on office leftovers. Scratch that idea.
I leave the pie at the office and go to the theater. After the final curtain call of “On the Town” I pick up the pie and head for the subway. The train never comes, and I am at risk of missing my train to Long Island. I hop an alternate train, that lets me off one block from Penn Station, and I have to sprint to the train, pie in hand. If you had seen me running down 34th Street at 11:32 p.m. carrying a pie, you might have thought I’d stolen it, too.
After all that, the pie makes it home relatively intact, with just a few cracks, as you can see from the photo above. If I squint at it, I can pretend it’s a smiley face.
The presence of the pie inspires a whole Thanksgiving dress rehearsal, of sorts. I pour over the recipe books and magazines, because you can’t have pumpkin pie without all the fixings, right? I roast a chicken, because Thanksgiving is all about a plump, juicy bird:
I make a silky-smooth gravy from the pan drippings:
I prepare a luscious dish of Maple-Glazed Sweet Potatoes:
And, I forgo the timesaving temptation of Stovetop Stuffing in favor of making my own from scratch – simple stuffing with apples and raisins. I even cube a whole loaf of Italian bread:
It’s all a build-up to that magnificent pie. It is a glorious feast, indeed, and a perfect prelude to the official holiday of thanks.