September 30, 2016
Greetings from Carrboro,
She had two kids by then. Infants, really. The small kitchen jutted out behind the small, clapboard house. By 4 a.m. most mornings she’d be working. There were buckets of leaf lard, flour, and sugar. Eggs that she left out overnight covered with a cloth. Maybe butter. And before the sun turned that South Carolina night into morning, the house would smell of fresh baked pies – chocolate, lemon, butterscotch, you name it – that sat cooling on long boards straddling sills on the screened porch.
The First World War was over. And doing the Charleston was all the rage. It was a heady time, to be sure. That first flush of 20th century American optimism took so many forms. For a straight-backed young man in Clemson, SC – the first in his family to attend college – it became the promise of graduate school and the dream of teaching. And for his wife, it was 4 a.m. and hot ovens and the hundreds of pies that she sold for five cents each – day after day – to pay for his graduate school. She certainly understood that the American promise did not come without a price.
Though, my grandmother never talked about it. At least, to me. When I asked her how many pies she actually made, her response was, “Enough.” But even in her nineties, she could flute a pie crust without looking down and do it twice as fast as I ever could. Practice, as they say, makes perfect. I’m sure that she’d slowly shake her head if she knew that I cook for a living. Oh well. Maybe it’s a family curse.
Next Friday, October 7th, would be her 117th birthday. In her honor, we’re having The Acme Pie Day. And – you guessed it – all slices of pie are going to be 5¢. Yes, a shiny nickel. And I’m even going to use her recipes. But I sincerely wonder if they could possibly be as delicious. Though, admittedly, I’m optimistic.
This weekend @ Acme: perfect weather. Soft shell crabs!!!!! Shooting Point oysters on the ½ shell. Slow-cooked beef shortribs. Curried Pumpkin. Watermelon Sangria. Shrimp stuffed chile relleno. Housemade spaghetti. Roasted jalapeno cornbread. Apple cobbler with salted caramel ice cream. Red snapper. Pecan-crusted fried chicken. End-of-the-year tomatoes. Cheeseburgers. Wild mushroom handpies. Perfect paté. Pan-seared duck with wild pear chutney. Forever roasted pig. Flash fried flounder. Chocolate terrine with spiced pumpkin fool.
Well, that’s all the news from Carrboro. The staff at Acme look forward to serving you soon.
The Staff at Acme
Reservations 919 929 2263 or online