All notes written by Elyse Reardon-Jung | Notes on Looking

Notes on Cooking… with Elyse Reardon-Jung

It was my birthday last Sunday. A fact I’m sure anyone who knows me had to hear with nauseating frequency for the past month. I love birthdays, specifically my birthday. When asked as a child what my favorite holiday was I replied, “My birthday!” I was patiently told my birthday was not really a holiday. I patiently told them, “Ok.” (Even as a child I knew it is best not to contradict people who are clearly delusional.) So, when it came time for party planning, I decided that pie was my dessert of choice, because very simply I like pie. I love pie. Cake is great, I do not mean to degrade its position as pastry of choice for this type of annual celebration. But I know how to make cake, and I don’t really know how to make pie; thus, I saw my birthday as an excellent opportunity to learn. This may seem counterintuitive, but recipe testing for an audience is quite thrilling. But every time I mentioned my planned birthday pies, my friends asked skeptically, “You want to make your own birthday cake?” Yes. Birthday pie…. What I was missing, my friend and collaborator Emily Marchand pointed out, is that “birthday-cake” (pie or otherwise) is not just a dessert; it is a sign of affection. Making your own empties out some of the meaning from this ritual offering. Birthday cakes are a signifier of the affection and thoughtfulness of those you have in your life. My friends’ affection is mango-flavored, and is not something I could have replicated in my own oven. Of course this is not...