Hold Your PSL, Pass Me a Slice of Pumpkin Pie

I’m a spring baby, but fall is my favorite season. Growing up in New England, I loved to see the leaves changing into beautiful shades of red, orange and gold. Here in the concrete jungle, the sights aren’t as breathtaking, but I’ll take what I can get. October is my favorite month. Not too hot, not too cold. My dream is to get married in the month of October.

Mother Nature used to tip-toe into autumn, also known as sweater weather, when you could exit the house in just that, but in recent years, Mother Nature has stomped directly into late fall without passing go or collecting $200, forcing us to swap out our open-toe sandals for warm, waterproof boots almost with no  chance to get used to the change of seasons. Instead of leaving the house in just a sweater, we’re layered with a scarf on top of a jacket on top of a sweater. As much as I hate being cold, I still love fall.  I feel sexiest and sassiest in the fall. With the break in the overbearing and oppressive heat, my skin is clean and clear, not sweaty and clammy.  The small pooch that no matter how hard I work out and how many daily and nightly sit-ups I do won’t budge is easier to camouflage with loose fitting sweaters and blazers. There’s more pep in my step when I don my variety of low to mid-heel booties and knee-high boots. Hello, Fall!

Year round my apartment smells like pumpkin spice, cinnamon spice, apple-cinnamon spice or any other variation ending in “spice,” but only during the fall can I enjoy the taste of pumpkin pie. Summertime I eat one watermelon per week; fall a pumpkin pie per week.  I try to ration it so that it’ll last two weeks, week and a half at the very least, but after a small slice, I inevitably make  my way back to the fridge for another.

I like my pie chilled or warmed in the toaster oven—never room temperature. I don’t own a microwave and have mastered heating it up in the toaster in a minimal amount of time. The trick: aluminum foil. After cutting a perfect wedge, I wrap it in Pam-sprayed foil, careful not to crush the top or sides. I set the toaster to 400 degrees while I eat dinner (sometimes breakfast), then Bingo! It’s ready. When I act civilized, I place the slice on a plate and eat it with a fork.  Seated. Uncivilized, I stand right there in the kitchen, in front of the toaster oven which sits atop the fridge, dishrag in hand for burn protection and eat straight from the foil. Without a fork. I take the uncivility a step further when I lick the foil for remnants of pie. If eating from a plate, I scrape the plate clean then lick in between the fork prongs.

While caffeine fiends crowd Starbucks with even more zeal for their hit flavored with seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte, the pumpkin I crave is in pie form. I’m not one for coffee. When I served on a month long jury panel that stretched into mid-September, it seemed like everyone came back from our breaks with a PSL or other hot or iced coffee. I went so far as to enter the Starbucks to give it a try, but changed my mind before I reached the line.

Traditionally, I bought my pie from Trader Joe’s, but when I switched to ordering groceries from Fresh Direct, I got it from them. Sometimes the site would be sold out forcing me to seek my delicious pie at a brick and mortar grocery store. More convenient than my neighborhood grocer is the supermarket near my office. I make the less than two-block jaunt to the Morton Williams in midtown during a break to grab a pie. Then for the remainder of the workday I feel taunted by it in a bag underneath my desk. I never put it in the office fridge for fear of forgetting it, or worse a co-worker thinking it community food and taking a slice. When I can’t find pumpkin pie, I accept pumpkin tart as a consolation prize. It’s just as good, but smaller and with a thicker crust.

Last year, despite never having baked in my life, I decided I wanted to bake a pumpkin pie. Save myself some money. In one internet tab I looked up the recipe, in another I logged onto Fresh Direct to add the ingredients to my cart. Pumpkin spice, what I figured an essential ingredient, was sold out. I closed both tabs. This year I may give it a try again. A few years ago I bought pumpkin pancake mix even though I’m not a pancake person. The box sat untouched until I threw it out for being past its expiration date. My already infrequent visits to Dunkin Donuts spike due to purchasing pumpkin muffins instead of my usual blueberry, but I’d rather the money go towards a nine-inch pie.

Pumpkin spice air freshener has been plugged into my wall for weeks.  I purchased an overly sweet pumpkin smoothie at Penn Station. I’ve worn a scarf on top of my leather jacket on top of my sweater that matched my ankle booties, but for me it won’t be officially fall until I have my pumpkin pie.  This afternoon after shopping and running errands at Container Store, Pier 1 and Strand Bookstore, I made pit stops at both the Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods in Union Square.  I saw apple, blueberry and other pies, but no pumpkin. Once I got back to Brooklyn I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on Nostrand Ave. for a pumpkin muffin. The space beneath the pumpkin label was empty. The crate wasn’t even there. I had zero desire to try the new pumpkin cheesecake square I saw advertised on a hanging poster above the register. I’ll try again tomorrow for my pie and muffin. Then and only then can I welcome the fall.


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