One of the tools in a writer’s arsenal to develop a fictional character is the Character A-Z exercise, where, beginning with the letter A and working your way through to Z, you write from the character’s POV (point of view) about whatever topic comes to mind for the letter at hand. Because, there comes a time when research has to stop and you just have to get into the character’s head to see what makes them tick.
Rose and I are embarking on just such a journey. Care to come along?
A is for Apples & Aristocrats
Sometimes, when I look in the mirror, all I see is Mama.
Not a physical resemblance, although there is that. No, it’s more in the way I hold my head. Or the tilt of my shoulders. Things that telegraph my years of privilege. The same things that set me apart from the other farm wives and make connecting with them so difficult.
I’d asked Gertie Maulman to teach me how to cook, not realizing that meant hours of enduring the banalities the woman chattered on about. The benefits of Crisco over lard. Whether chickens fared better on fruit or foraging. I don’t know anything about any of these. Worse, I don’t think I want to.
Yes, I want more than anything to fit in. And some of these things I need to know to be a good wife to Harold. But can’t they talk about something other than farming all the time? A book? Music? Heck, even a conversation about how to get the best finger-waves would be refreshing.
“I use bacon grease, m’self,” Gertie added, scooping out a generous portion of brown fat from the crock on her stove and cutting it into the flour concoction we’d mixed together. “You won’t get a flakier crust with anything else. Not for every pie crust, mind you. It takes a hearty fillin’ to go with that hint of bacon flavor. Chocolate. Peach. And, of course, these apples.” She laughed as if pairing apples and bacon were the funniest thing to happen this century.
I pasted a smile on my face and hoped it hid my growing alarm. It seemed Mama wasn’t the only aristocratic snob in my family, after all.
Want to try your hand at Gertie’s pie crust? Here’s a crust recipe you can follow.