It was with great sadness that Clive realized he had, for the second year in a row, missed National Pie Day. December 1st was the auspicious day for eating pie, and Clive, the self-avowed World’s Greatest Lover of Pies (for consumption, he was quick to point out ever since that disappointment of a movie), was three days late.
To lament his missing of the best annual celebration of dubious causes, he treated himself to a pie crawl, wherein he visited each restaurant or shop that sold pie by the slice within a five-mile radius of his house, a feat made more impressive by the fact that he had specifically chosen his living arrangements for its proximity to pie-selling establishments (the research for which had been excessively laborious, to say the least).
Following eight hours of apple, pumpkin, blueberry, lemon meringue, coconut cream, pecan, chocolate, banana cream, and boysenberry, he sat at his final destination. It was eight forty-five, the place was getting ready to close, and they brought their last customer his only request; a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie.
Clive wasn’t normally one for mixed fruit pies. Most attempts at it cheapened the flavour of the fruits involved, and, in his opinion, reduced the flakiness of the crust. But strawberry-rhubarb was the one combination that worked; the tartness of the rhubarb brought out the sweetness of the strawberries, and vice versa, and the crust on this one looked layered, flaked, and delightfully buttery. Besides, rhubarb wasn’t even really a fruit, he reasoned.
He took his first bite, and it was everything he had hoped for. Sweet and tangy, a crystalline sugariness to the mouthfeel with notes of oak and pectin. The finish was long, with a light smokiness like a bonfire on solstice. The second taste was similar, and Clive knew he had planned his day well.
The third bite fell from his fork, either from poor loading or the slight tremble in his arm, he wasn’t sure. It landed with a splatter on his huge gut, and he looked down at it forlornly, before scooping it off the impromptu cotton platter and pushing it in his mouth. It added an interesting hint of fabric softener; not unpleasant, that.
After a few minutes, his pie was finished, and Clive pushed back his chair. It took three tries before he was standing, and he tossed a ten dollar bill on the table as he waddled out. Another successful pie crawl, he thought, as he began planning January’s.