Story and photographs b y E M I LY H I L L I AR D & L O R A S MI T H
LORA: I wasn’t sure what I thought about Emily when I first met her. She's smart, witty, a great baker, has an extensive knowledge of avantgarde artists, wears vintage dresses over brightly colored tights with covetable boots, knits a mean scarf, can play guitar, fiddle and sing. I briefly considered hating her. But that quickly changed over a pot of hot apple butter. After a trip to pick apples in the mountains, Emily invited me over to help put them up. It wasn’t the best batch of apple butter that either of us has made, but it didn’t matter. As we peeled and cored the apples, grated ginger, fumbled in the spice cabinet to find anise, clove and cinnamon and measured sugar, Emily’s tiny graduate student kitchen in downtown Carborro, North Carolina, expanded to hold layers of memory, time and stories. By the time we were ready to jar, the butter wasn’t as thick as we’d hoped, but our friendship had found a perfect set. EMILY: That first food project set the tone for the rest of our friendship. Though we’ve hiked mountains in Kentucky, stumbled through clogging lessons together, and spent many-a-night out at the bar (but not too many, mind you!), the times I think we’ve felt the closest, shared the most secrets, hopes, and future plans, is in the kitchen—preparing, enjoying and sharing food. LORA: In the kitchen, we talk. We talk about domestic arts, our mothers, our grandmothers; we talk about our love of fruit, female creativity and our generation’s movement to reclaim domestic spaces. (And, OK, sometimes we talk about boys.)
Mostly, though, we talk about reconciling our career ambitions with our domestic and homesteading ambitions. Our conversations flow with the stirring of pots, the rolling out of dough and find pause in breaks to taste, and then taste again. EMILY: I started baking pies the summer after college. My mother had always been the pie baker in the family, and I didn't get into it until I started discovering these mulberry trees and black-raspberry bushes all over Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I was living at the time. It became a sort of ritual, often shared with friends, to go pick the berries —I did it nearly every day of the summer. We called it "guerilla urban berry picking" and sometimes went at night, bringing along chairs to reach the high branches, feeling all the more guerilla. Since I was getting the berries for free, I began making a lot of pies, and would leave them on neighbors’ or friends’ doorsteps. So for me, pie has always been about friendship, community and place. LORA: I’ve always been a lover of pies, but had sat on the sidelines lovingly fulfilling my pie duty the old-fashioned way—by asking for seconds. It was Emily who helped me realize the beauty and art of pie baking when we put together a collaborative baking event that has a national, albeit geeky, following: March 14th marks Pi Day, so named for the mathematical number of pi, 3.14, and the date 3/14. EMILY: I've celebrated Pi Day for a few years now—usually with a just few friends stopping over for dessert on a dreary day in mid-March. But last year we set our sights higher and decided to host T h e Z e n c h i l a d a . c o m Wi nter 2011
Published on Nov 22, 2011
A digital culinary magazine featuring beautifully designed stories, art, poetry and recipes exploring local and global conversations about f...