I believe in grandma’s secrets. One of my grandma’s secrets is buttermilk pie. Made from scratch. Fresh out of the oven, it melts in your mouth.
Nobody can make buttermilk pie quite like my grandma. I tried once.
I was away for the summer, up north, a strange place for a girl born and raised in the South. Hardly anybody had heard of sweet tea, not to mention buttermilk pie. I decided to show them what they were missing. I phoned home for my grandma’s recipe and went to the store, proud of my Southern roots, to buy the ingredients. Anybody can cook by a recipe, I thought.
I should’ve been forewarned when I searched the entire grocery store with no luck for the key ingredient, only to be directed by an employee to a small, forlorn carton of buttermilk surrounded by a full wall of 1%, 2%, and soy. I snatched up two of only three or so cartons and gathered the rest of the ingredients. After using my entire week’s allowance of grocery budget and then some, I strutted out of the store ready to show the world the splendor of grandma’s pie.
While my friends skeptically looked on, I mixed the ingredients and placed them in the oven. “No eggs?” inquired one, “No,” I answered cockily, “My mom didn’t list them in the recipe.” “Okay… that’s weird…” was her reply. “No it’s not,” I thought to myself. Grandma is always right. I was baffled when 45 minutes later, my pies hadn’t risen. They were a bubbling caramelized mess. My mom had warned me that it was hard to judge when to take the pies out of the oven, but what was in front of me could hardly be considered pie. Perplexed, I called my mom over the phone. We read over the ingredients list and I assured her I followed it to a T. Hesitantly, I asked her, “Mom, there aren’t supposed to be eggs in it, are there?” “Of course there area, it’s on it recipe.” “No, mom, its not.” In my haste to share a part of my heritage with my friends, I had rushed my mother to send the recipe and eggs had been left off of the list. In front of me, I had four gooey pans of inedible caramelized sugar.
“So this is buttermilk pie?” my friends asked jokingly. “No it’s not even close,” I had to admit to my embarrassment, “Nobody can cook buttermilk pie like my grandma.”
I believe that there are some things that only come with time, age, and wisdom. Grandma has some secrets. They lie in the hidden ingredients. Her special touch. Her love.
I believe that I will never be able to bake a buttermilk pie just like my grandma. But, I also believe that my grandma would tell me to keep trying, not to match her product, but to find a process that is uniquely my own.
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