Here’s a little ditty about my first experience with Southern Peanut Butter Pie.
When I drove into Palmetto Springs Florida, I blinked my eyes. Had I stumbled upon a movie set for a production of a Tennessee William’s play? Spanish moss draped from venerable oak trees like party decorations. Small bungalows with screened porches all needing paint jobs lined the street. Three little girls played hop scotch on the sidewalk and a boy whizzed by on an ancient red bicycle. Sprawled on the edge of the road was a sleeping dog. Flies were buzzing around him like nosey neighbors.
A solitary vintage building with a covered porch and a single gas pump signaled my arrival to the center of town. Five wooden rocking chairs were spaced on the porch. The faded cushions were permanently indented from years of accommodating the backsides of prior occupants. In one of the chairs a little girl was furiously licking a melting red popsicle. The faster she rocked, the quicker trickles of red slithered down her arm.
Opening the screen door I entered another era. Every wall, all the shelving, the floor, the ceiling, the entire interior was gleaming mahoney. It was a hodgepodge conglomerate one would expect in a general store, although it was disconcerting to find motor oil and Doritos displayed next to each other on such old world elegant shelves.
Off to the left were four stools and a small lunch counter. It was noon. I was hungry. I sat down. A man I hadn’t notice before hobbled over and slid behind the counter. He was old. No, he was older than old. He could have easily been a carnival side show feature hawked as the one and only living mummy.
“Can I help ya lady,” he drawled.
” I would like to see a menu please,” I said trying not to stare.
“Can’t give you a menu, because there isn’t one.”
“Okay, is there a daily special board?” I looked around to find one.
“We don’t have one of those either.” He folded his arms across his chest.
“All right, I give up. How do people know what you are serving each day?” I asked.
“Oh that’s easy. Everyone hereabouts knows I only serve peanut butter pie.”
That’s it, everyday?” I said. I wondered if the old coot was senile or just playing with me.
“Yep. I bake fresh pies every morning except Sunday. It’s a fact you won’t find a better peanut butter pie than mine.”
Well then I better have a slice of that famous pie.” I smiled.
Pleased with my answer he smiled back flashing a lone surviving tooth. He removed a pie from the cooler behind him and cut a big slice.
He watched expectedly as I took the first bite. It was sublime. If I was Catholic, I ‘m sure this pie would have compelled me to go to confession. Anything this decadently delicious had to be a sin.
“This is the most outrageous pie, I have ever tasted in my entire life,” I said reverently.
The man nodded. ” I told you lady my pie was the best.”
Slowly I savored every creamy silky morsel. It was overwhelming clear, if lingered in this place I would be ordering a second slice and then a third. If I spent the night, I would be eating pie for breakfast.
Ol’ Beelzebub himself was secreted in the guise of that addictive pie. Then I remembered some long ago advice from my Grandmother. When confronted by the Devil firmly state, Get thee behind me!
I took Grandma’s advice and left town. The Devil was indeed behind me in the shape of a whole pie tucked away safely in the cooler in my trunk.