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Authors at Christmas

Yesterday’s Observer had three authors talking about their Christmases. Lionel Shriver clearly loves her pies….

I bake splendid pies. Lest that sound boastful, the sole reason I bake splendid pies is that my mother bakes splendid pies. I do not mean, either, those thin, photogenic European creations called tarts. Thick, deep-dish, homey and rumpled, proper American pies. The rest of the year our family dug into coconut-custard, rhubarb-cream, lemon meringue, peach, cherry, blueberry, and apple. But for Christmas dinner we were reliably treated to two pies: one pumpkin, the other pecan. The smooth, dense pumpkin custard would be aromatically spiced with cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Sweet enough to set your teeth on edge, the pecan (which my Iowan mother pronounced pi-kahn, my Virginian father pee-kan) was topped with nuts arranged in concentric circles that would toast during baking, while beneath them a corn-syrup-and-butter confection set into a rich, gelatinous glop with enough calories to keep the entire family alive through most of January. Any self-respecting kid always asked for a small slice of both, with ice cream as well, thank you.

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