I had a highly sensitive tongue growing up How sensitive, you ask? I could distinguish Bisquick pancakes from Krusteaz pancakes, by taste, and decided I loved Bisquick and hated Krusteaz. My grandma knew this, pitied my condition, and did her very best to mess with me any chance she got.
Her mission: to disprove my taste bud sensitivity and bring my pickiness crumbling down into a pile of delicious logic. Or, she just wanted to see the look on my face when I ate something gross.
It started with a slightly bitter cake with almond frosting on top. The frosting was pretty good, but I wasn’t a big fan of the cake, which was quickly revealed to be made of zucchini. Zucchini! Blech! I did not touch another bite. Smug though Grandma was, I counted the occasion as a victory, because my tastebuds had been sensitive enough to save me from eating such an aberration in the world of desserts.
At another family function, Grandma served up a seemingly benign fruit pie with green filling, which I expected to contain apples. I knew something was up when every eye at the table was fixated on my fork’s slow progress toward my mouth. One small taste, and I knew something was wrong. They weren’t apples. They weren’t gooseberries. Nor were they mutant cherries. They were green tomatoes.
So, years of tomato soup cakes and squash pies later, I challenged Grandma to a Thanksgiving Bake-Off. The challenge would be to make a dessert with a secret, strange ingredient, then see if the other could pick out what it was. She accepted the challenge.
Scrolling through bean pies, apple-bacon pies, and sawdust pies, I discovered, at last, my pie champion: Vinegar Pie. It might have been a little heavy-handed, but the name was too strange to resist. The ingredients, as you might expect, were eggs, sugar, flour, and water with two teaspoons of lemon extract and six more of apple cider vinegar. The smell was intense, but flavor was a subtle lemon custard with just the slightest hint of vinegar. It was go-time.
The first slice brought great enjoyment. Grandma also delivered a fine-quality pie. The competition was tough. Beads of sweat lined our foreheads as we searched our mental lists of ingredients until finally, she said, “There’s vinegar in here.”
She’d stumped me with a trick, a squash pie that tasted exactly like a pumpkin pie, and sailed on to victory. Nonetheless, defeat was never so sweet. Next time, we’ll see what she thinks of avocado pie.