My Facebook feed is full of shots of beautiful food. Often the food displayed sits on restaurant tables: except for cooking bloggers, home cooks don’t routinely produce exquisite, perfectly garnished plates. Most nights, if they are anything like me, they just want to eat whatever it is they’ve cooked.
However, when home cooks make something especially beautiful and elaborate, they post pictures. I do this myself. After hours of work, who can resist posting their beautiful homemade sourdough or cherry tomato cobbler?
But like so much on Facebook, these pictures only show our good side. They don’t show our failures, or even our ordinariness. I didn’t post pictures of my pale and dense homemade rolls at Thanksgiving or the pasta I made with store-bought pesto.
Which brings me to my Easter pie. Because I had company coming for dinner, and because I had promised my husband I would make him a pie from a jar of huckleberry pie filling, I decided to bake a pie.
Unfortunately, my crust was a little dry, so rolling it out was a challenge. It cracked, and though I tried to repair the fissures, the dough always cracked again on the same spot. When I put the top crust on over the filling, the cracks opened again. Arrg! I decided that I would make little flowers out of extra pie crust to cover those spots. I envisioned a pie so whimsically cute, it would surely be worth a Facebook post.
Well. Making those little flowers turned out to be harder than I thought it would be. I rolled out my cracking crust and tried to cut out the flowers with a knife. “You’re making little stars!” my husband exclaimed as I was trying to freehand flowers. I managed to make two and put them over the ugly parts of the upper crust. But then, having just two flowers looked stupid. I decided I would have to make a few more. The longer I worked with the crust, the warmer the pastry got, and the more difficult forming the flowers became. Finally, I decided I was done and put the pie in the oven.
When I looked in on the pie a few minutes later, my crust's crimped edges had totally drooped. I think it took me so long to get those flowers on that the crust’s butter had softened too much. I opened the oven and frantically tried to push the flattened edges up again, though it was a failing effort. When the pie came out, it was not the whimsical, flower-scattered beauty I imagined. Instead, it looked like this:
Not picture-perfect by any means! It was more comical than beautiful. Certainly not worth a social media post.
But then I remembered something I tell my memoir writing students: no one wants to read about someone perfect. If you’re not willing to expose your faults, you won’t write an interesting essay. People want to read about people as flawed as they are. The advice is true for fictional characters as well.
So I went ahead and posted the pie to my feed, figuring everyone could get a good laugh at my pie fail. Of course, since my Facebook readers are all my friends, they said it actually looked like a wonderful pie. But I hope some of them laughed too.
And though it didn’t look so wonderful, the pie tasted good!
This photo is proof that I could have selectively posted a more beautiful, but incomplete picture. I chose not to.
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Bayou, The Laurel Review, and Sou’wester.
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