As Shelley pointed out in her introduction to our latest series over on The CanLitFare Blog, “Turning Point Meals” can alert us to a change in character – or rather, to a character’s changing relationship to the world in which s/he lives.
“Wild Turkeys” from Beth Brant’s short story collection, Food and Spirits gives us Violet, and apple pie.
On her way home from a visit with her grandmother – the first in a long while – Violet makes a pit stop in purported Turkey capital of Michigan, Fairview, at Rita’s Diner. She has two hours left of driving and she could use a coffee. She’s been here before. She used to live nearby . . . with an abusive husband . . . until she left.
This meal marks a turning point in Violet’s life. Tomorrow, she starts a new job and with it comes enough money to make more visits of this kind, without fear of reprisal.
“’Cherry please.’ Why did she always sound so meek? She cleared her throat. ‘I changed my mind. Apple’”
“You’re entitled” (30).
replies Rita of the eponymous diner.
Apple pie isn’t for the faint of heart. We will later learn that Violet would have preferred cherry, but the secret is not in the filling, but in the ordering: our protagonist is trying out or trying on assertiveness.
She hasn’t yet managed to align her desires with this newfound assertiveness. This will come later perhaps. She manages, by the end of her slice, to share one important detail with Cheryl, a fellow diner: her name, first and last, and a promise to return.
I made both pies this week. I learned two things. 1) pies take a long time to make if you’ve never made them before. 2) a butter/shortening combination really does make for a flaky crust. I’ll let you choose which slice you prefer.
Brant, Beth. Food & Spirits: Stories. Vancouver: Press Gang Publishers, 1991. Print.
Photo Credit: Alexia Moyer