This is the story of the Lemon Merengue Pie.
Every special occasion, usually Thanksgiving and Christmas, my mom would make sure each of us kids had our own favorite pie. My brother Charles and I loved cherry pie. I honestly don’t remember my other brother’s favorite pies but I know we always had Pecan pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie and my cherry pie. And mom did this every Thanksgiving and every Christmas. Our Christmas feast was a repeat of Thanksgiving since we usually received several turkeys from kind Samaritans. Oh, and there was always a third turkey that was saved for Easter.
But for my dad it was always lemon merengue pie. As we got older, she would usually let us help make “our” pie. And I remember that she always fretted until Daddy’s pie was made. I remember being in the store with her helping to find the ingredients for Daddy’s favorite pie. And when his pie was ready, she would carry it out to him and he would make a big production, hug her and smack his lips. She would blush and smile. Geesh, they were cute.
When I was twenty-four, my mom passed away after a two year battle fighting breast cancer. That was in March. We made it through Easter that year and my sister-in-law, Michelle, and I figured out the Easter feast.
As my Dad’s birthday started to approach in August, I began to fret, like my mom, about making sure Dad had a lemon merengue pie for his Birthday. See, Daddy never had a birthday cake on his birthday. He had lemon merengue pie. And he would smile, smack his lips, make a big deal out of eating his pie and give Mom her hug. And she would blush.
I found a recipe for lemon meringue pie. I headed to the grocery store to find the ingredients. I looked up and down every aisle trying to find lemon peel. I headed back to my apartment and called my Aunt Kay (no cell phones back in those days!).
Me: “Aunt Kay, where do I find lemon peel?”
Aunt Kay: “Honey, you have to buy a lemon and then scrape some of the peel off.”
So, back to the store I went and home again with my lemon.
I accomplished the lemon part of the pie with no further problems. Of course, I used the frozen pie crusts in the foil pans. What twenty-four year old single girl do you know that owns a nice pie pan? This one didn’t! And then I was moving onto the merengue part and my first attempt was not very successful. Can I just say how thankful I was that my Aunt Kay kept answering her phone that day? Did you know that you are supposed to beat the egg whites for a long, long time? Until they form stiff peaks? So, after another conversation with my Aunt Kay, I headed back to the grocery store and found a tin of cream of tartar.
My second attempt at the merengue produced a beautiful and lovely pie and I was quite proud of my handiwork!
A little bit later, I made a way to my Dad’s house and unveiled the loveliest pie I had ever made. Well, it was my first pie. And my Dad gave me a hug. It was just me and him sitting on the front porch with our slices of heavenly lemon merengue pie. And as he is digging into his slice:
Dad: “You know, your momma always used to make me a lemon merengue pie. And I never really did care for lemon merengue pie!”
Oh. My. Word!! It turns out that my Daddy really loved Vanilla crème pie but Mom had made a lemon merengue pie for him at some point and he’d made a big deal out of it and she’d thought that meant he loved lemon merengue! This my friends, is true love.
And that’s the story of the lemon merengue pie.