I did not meet my husband’s mother until our Eldest was about three months old. And, as I was the scheming young thing who married her Darling Baby Boy (who was 30, and had one very ill-fated marriage already behind him), she likely had every reason to distrust and dislike me.
She is also the consummate Southern Lady, however. Her own code of social behavior would not let her be rude to her son’s wife. So, upon our meeting, she was cordial and pleasant and very welcoming. She was also instantly in love with her new grandbaby, as she’s absolutely the consummate Southern Grandmother on top of everything else. I love her for it.
Still, things were a bit awkward. What did I have to talk about with this Mother of My Beloved? I’m the oldest in my large family, and my husband is two decades younger than his older brother, so my new mother-in-law was actually part of my grandparents’ generation, not my parents’. My husband was only slightly younger than one of my aunts.
The Mother of My Beloved and I experienced periodic lapses in conversation, and fell back on cooing at the Eldest in the awkward moments.
That is, until the pie.
I’ve mentioned before my father-in-law’s fixation on Very Good Clam Chowder. That fixation led us all to a lunch at Mo’s Chowder House in Cannon Beach, Oregon, one pretty summer day.
If I recall correctly, the Father of My Beloved ordered fried clams for an appetizer, with a bowl of clam chowder for entree, a cup of clam chowder for dessert, and another bowl to be wrapped for takeout after.
The Mother of My Beloved barely glanced at the menu. She declared that she’d start with the coconut cream pie, and have a salad for dessert.
Pie as an entree. I was smitten.
And it was my Favorite of All Pies: Coconut Cream.
Sensing an eternal bond in its infant formation, I said “Ditto.”
Several blissful forkings into our Wedges of Delight, our initial cravings satisfied, we began to chat about Pies We Have Known. Fourteen years later, we will call one another after trips to discuss the various iterations of Coconut Cream we have tasted on our wanderings. We reminisce about particularly good recipes, and share hopes for future coconutty forays.
Our shared fondness for pie is not the only bond now; we’ve developed quite a few others, and enjoying sharing the biggest one: fondness for her son.
But pie never hurts, right?