I never really loved cake. Even as a child the idea of birthday cake didn’t’ get me excited. So it wasn’t long before I was requesting a birthday pie. Mom still bought the cake, always from the brilliant Sarno Bakery on Vermont, sadly gone now. That way she didn’t have to face a group of kids wondering where the cake was. Occasionally I got my wish for a birthday pie but it didn’t really take as yearly tradition until I started making it myself sometime during the teen years. It was always apple, even though my birthday is in July, a double crust made with Crisco using the 3-2-1 crust method. When I started traveling to Italy each summer when I was 18 I even packed a little suitcase with 20 apples, a pie pan, rolling pin, Crisco and Gold Medal flour.
Obviously things are a bit different now. I’m a better cook and more sensitized to the seasons. So even though I love apple pie I wait until the stone fruit and berries are gone to enjoy it. Last week I celebrated my birthday at the Oaxacan restaurant Guelaguetza with a a few close friends. I couldn’t have picked a more celebratory place. It was packed with people enjoying great live music, who doesn’t love the song It Had to Be You played on marimbas?
I ordered a Botana Qaxaqueña for the table. It’s a Gulliver sized sizzling platter of Oaxacan meats (cecina, tasajo) quesillo, memelas (super thick corn tortillas spread with chicharron paste), chiles rellenos, pork ribs. Fine mescal was the beverage of choice.
After dinner we came back to my house for birthday pie. This year it was hoarded (frozen) Boysenberry-Mulberry Sour Cream Crumble Pie and a Peach-Raspberry Custard Pie.