The Wandering Purim Pie

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08 Mar 2006

The story of Purim is a tale of venahafoch hu – things turning around and about and turning out, much to everyone’s surprise, just right. Things like that happen nowadays too. It was late one Friday afternoon on erev Purim…

“Hello, Ima? Are you finished in the kitchen yet? Can I come over for a few minutes? To bake a pecan pie. It’s for my in-laws, for shalach manos.”

“Bake? Now?” I gulp. “I just finished cleaning the kitchen. It’s one o’clock erev Shabbos!”

“I know it’s one o’clock, but it’s not Shabbos until five. There’s plenty of time. Besides, I’ll clean everything up. Don’t I always?”


“Ima? Are you there?”

“What’s wrong with your oven?” I counter. “It’s lovely and gorgeous and brand new. Doesn’t it work?”

“I haven’t figured out how to use it yet and I have no time to start now.”

“But we ate at your house last night. You baked the food in it and it was delicious!”

“That was with the turbo. I don’t know how to bake without the turbo yet.”

“But the turbo is only…”

“Please, can’t I just come to you this time? I’ll bake at home next time!”

“But I have chicken baking in my oven now,” I reply.

“Oh. I was afraid of that. OK. I’ll take the pie over to Aunt Bev to bake it, but I need your mixer.”

“Look, Shani, doesn’t it seem silly to walk all the way here, use my mixer, take the pie to Beverly, bake it in her oven, go home while it’s baking, return on Sunday to pick it up, and then take it to your mother-in-law? I know we send shalach manos out to friends, but that doesn’t mean you have to send it all around the neighborhood to prepare it! Wouldn’t it be easier to just bake it in your own nice, new oven on motzei Shabbos and take it straight to your in-laws on Sunday without all of the stops in-between?”

“I suppose it would,” she sighed, “but can’t I come bake in your kitchen, just this once? I know my way around your kitchen better. Next Purim Bezrat Hashem, I’ll be more organized.”

In ten minutes she was at the door, holding one small bag of pecans and ready to begin.

“Is this all the flour you have left? I’m taking a package of your margarine, OK? Don’t you have any more sugar? Where’s your vanilla? Oy, this batter doesn’t look right. It’s too watery! Maybe I messed up the instructions. I’d better call Davida (a sister-in-law) and check.”

“Wait a minute. Before you call Davida, read the instructions again.”

“I read them already! Half a package of margarine, half a cup of water … Oh! I put in a cup and a half by mistake! That must be why it’s so wet. What can I do now? Can I add flour, or will that make it too pasty?”

“Just add three times more of everything and it’ll be OK,” I sigh.

She adds the ingredients, rolls out the dough and prepares the pecan filling. Half the dough is left (she tripled the recipe but didn’t have enough pecans to go around.)

“Can I put this leftover dough in the fridge? I’ll bake something else with it on Sunday. Do you have any aluminum foil? Don’t look so worried. I’ll clean everything up. Don’t I always?”

The telephone rings. It’s her husband, Chaim.

“Two-thirty? We have to leave the house at two-thirty to get the last bus to your parents?” She looks at her watch. It is now ten minutes to two. “I’d better hurry. It’ll be close, but I should be there on time… I hope. I just have to get the pie over to Bev and drop something off at Miri’s across the street. We’ll make the bus – I think.”

I look at my watch and make a quick mental calculation. I wonder if perhaps Hashem has prepared a few contemporary k’fitzot haderech for her but I keep quiet.

She takes off my apron and I hand her a pot. “Here, take this. It belongs to Miri. It’s been here since your Shabbat kallah three weeks ago. If you’re stopping at her house, you can return it.”

“OK. Just put it down. I’ll take it when I leave.”

She puts a few things away in the kitchen, grabs her jacket and the pie and is halfway out the door. She steps back in and gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Shabbat Shalom!” She smiles and is gone.

Miri’s pot is still on the counter. The rolling pin is lying alone and unwashed on the microwave. The sifter is full of flour. Half a package of margarine is open on the table. It’s seven minutes after two. I restore order and serenity in my kitchen.

At ten minutes after three, the phone rings. Guess who?

“Oh, um…hi Ima! Is Yedidya there?” she asks.

“Did you make the bus? Are you at your in-laws?” I ask.

“Uh…not exactly. I’ll tell you later. Is Yedidya there?” she repeats.

I want to say, “No, he’s not. Your good hearted, long suffering brother is not here. He has flown to Hawaii.” Or… “He lost his driver’s license.” Or…”He got drunk before Purim this year and cannot drive.” But instead, I count to ten and hand the phone to Yedidya, knowing full well what his sister is about to request.

Arrangements are quickly made for one silvery blue Subaru (ours), complete with brotherly driver, to carry two late Sabbath guests to a certain yishuv twenty-five minutes out of Jerusalem.

Maybe next year she’ll plan a “Venahafoch Hu” and do it differently… Meanwhile, Purim Sameach to you all, and may your Pecan Pies be forever well baked.

[*** PLEASE NOTE: This article was written about a new bride, a mere three weeks after her marriage and my daughter insists that the retelling of the event is sorely exaggerated.

“I couldn’t have been that scatterbrained!” she says. I am silent.

I will admit to one thing, however. Not only do brides – and children in general – improve with time; they turn into gourmet cooks, wonderful mothers, and responsible, respectable, first class people – a ve’nahafoch hu par exellance! So for those of you who are wondering where your children may be heading, I can only say, keep smiling and hang on. It took nine years for the miracle of Purim to happen but in the end, venahafoch hu – everything turned around and a happy end was had by all!]

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.