I hope you enjoy “Tales of Pumpkin Pie.” It reminded me of Christmas at my grandmother’s house! My cousins and I always referred to Mama Hill’s black bottom rolls as one of our favorites! You can read more of Beth Albright’s sassy southern tales in her books, her newest being A Christmas Wedding In Dixie.
Tales of Pumpkin Pie By Beth Albright
Honey, if food is love, then my cup, (and my hips) runneth over! My Christmas memories are so centered around food. It’s always, “what are we planning to eat?” Down south, it just goes without saying that food is love. Food is at the core of everything we do, no matter what the occasion—whether funeral or wedding– the best, most mouth-watering food in the world is a staple of life here. It is simply part of the age-old tapestry of the Deep South; good cooking handed down from one generation to the next. And at Christmas time it was particularly amazing.
Sometimes there can actually be too much food!! I will never forget as long as I live the time I was visiting my soon-to-be new Mother-in-law one year for the holidays. We had about 20 people there for the big feast. One by one, we all kept bringing the freshly made dishes to the table. It was a huge table with two leaves in, so the length was crazy long. It took up the entire dining room and reached into the living room. The table was soon filled with masterful holiday dishes when just as I put the last dish on the table—the proverbial straw that broke the camels back—this last dish broke the table—in slow motion, as I began to leave my dish, I watched in horror as the entire table collapsed under the weight of all the food.
Everyone dashed into the dining room and grabbed any dish they were close to—for God’s sake, save those mashed potatoes!! Someone grab the bird—and down the whole thing went. We managed to save the food and fix the table. I knew instantly I couldn’t wait to marry into this crazy family!
But, remember how I just said good food and recipes are all part of a family tapestry handed down for generations? Well somehow my poor Mother missed the food memo.
My taste buds will forever associate burned-to-a-crisp pumpkin pie to the merriest of Christmases. Not burned, but charcoaled—black, to a crunchy awful smoked crisp. She tried and usually it was the fault of the poorly working oven. Ahem. This is what she kept telling us, yet somehow every single oven we owned was “broken.” This was all after I became an adult and was married and always travelling in from far, far away. So me cooking ahead of time and bringing food in was not an option. And she would let no one in her kitchen—only she knew the secret of crisping everything.
My mother’s cooking was known far and wide throughout the family, so eventually, everyone began bringing their own favorite Christmas dishes—all very edible. All sans that yummy charcoal flavor.
But I always knew that food really is love and Mother always loved us as best she could—I have to say she was much better at sewing, doing homework with us, listening to our prayers—pretty much anything under the sun, anything other than cooking.
So as Christmas dinner was finished, and everyone was passing the good pie, either made by someone else, or picked up at a store, I glanced at my mother and smiled. I took her burned, black pumpkin pie and cut myself a piece, tuned it over hoping not to find a burned crust. I didn’t. Instead the pie ran out and over the sides of my plate. Charcoaled on top-runny in the middle—my favorite way to eat Pumpkin Pie! I think she must have mistaken broil for bake. But I ate it anyway. With a smile. I have to say Mother did extra well with the all the Turkeys we ever had. But pie was not her friend.
If food is love, and we all know that it is, especially Christmastime and holiday food, Mother sure had enough love to share. It doesn’t really matter how decadent it is—what really matters is who has spent time, effort and energy with their own hands to make something and deliver it with love. That’s Christmas to me. Burned pumpkin pie and all.
Do you have tales of burnt Christmas treats?