When I used to make pie I spent a lot of time rolling out dough and thinking about little jokes that I thought my bosses at Hoosier Mama Pie Company should put on T-shirts: “Crimp my style,” for instance. “How we roll.” Et cetera—there were other, better ones, I swear. For a while my only shift was on Friday night (I worked for a couple other bakers at the time), making pie for the morning farmers’ market and a few cafes that the company sold to. The rolling station, such as it was, was set away from the rest of the kitchen so I usually was there by myself, which was ideal because of WBEZ’s lineup of Friday-night programming: Sound Opinions first, then This American Life. I stood there rolling dough, 40, 50, 60 shells a night, and listened. Eventually I’d drift back to the rest of the kitchen and help put fruit pies together; late at night, toward 1 and 2 AM, we’d package the pies and go home. I’d be covered in flour and something like raspberry or cherry juice, both of which look like blood. HMPC has its own storefront now; this was in Kitchen Chicago, the shared-use kitchen, which has since moved, too. It’s been replaced in its old Ravenswood Manor space by a pie shop: First Slice.
This was a perfectly relaxing routine for a Friday evening, I thought, and I only have one bad memory, which is of the night I used unpasteurized eggs rather than pasteurized eggs when mixing the filling for the peanut butter pie, which had to be made with the special eggs because it wasn’t cooked. Imagine the horror. I had the throw away the entire batch, minus whatever I managed to scoop into my mouth en route to the trash. It was really good peanut butter pie.