1958 Springfield Avenue
Maplewood, NJ 07040
The Park Wood Diner gave us every reason to believe we would get good cherry pie. The chicken soup was good. The salad was fresh. Even the coleslaw was good. The place mats boasted "You'll like our food." A sign on the coffee maker said "God Bless America." We really believed it might happen. The slice we were served was fresh on both edges, which seemed to bode well. But that pie was nothing more than crust on the outside and red stuff on the inside.
It looked like a pie. Yeah, in a court of law it could be proved they had intended to make a cherry pie. They probably have a paper trail - invoices for cherries filed away, a testimonial from a 'baker' ( "I am the baker what make ze pie. Yes. I make ze crust. Also, I fill ze crust wit ze cherries. I swear I do zis.") - just in case in this litigious society someone asks for their day in court. The plaintiffs' discussion with counsel might go something like this:
Jersey Pie: We feel that by implication they were saying that there would be cherries in the pie.
Lawyer: So, are you saying it was a blueberry pie?
Jersey Pie: No, we mean the quality, a thing can't have no quality at all. Could they serve anything beige on the outside and red on the inside as cherry pie?
Lawyer: I think you've got no case, is what I think.
Trader Joe's cherry crumb pie last weekend was not much better. All real ingredients, no preservatives, a little more than 50% crumb. Something slimy happened between the cherries and the crumbs. And sweet. Not HFCS sweet, but sugar sweet. Not good. We are starting to think we can distinguish the flavor of disregard. This Trader Joe's pie carried the taste of the bottom line. And that brings us back to the assembly line. On television this week they're advertising the new Terminator movie. And here we pose a pie-quest inspired philosophical query: Have the machines already won? Is it not so much they might gain a survival instinct and human-like consciousness as they have already dulled our own awareness...of the quality that human care brings to a pie? Rather than rising to our level, have we already fallen to theirs, with questions like: how much filler can I use and still call it pie? How little effort can I apply and still keep my job? How little can I possibly care about what I am doing and still get it done?
It's a dark day for Jersey Pie. It's hard to believe we'll find any reason to carry on with our quest, and yet we continue our search. There are some lights on the horizon. We've heard of an orchard in South Jersey, where folks line up for pie. Seems positively Edenic. Is that what we're really looking for here? A sort of Platonic ideal to feed our souls as much as it stuffs our pie holes? What are we really looking for?