Today I write a letter to Mary Boulton — my favourite fictional character. Not of all time, but for the past couple of years. Mary is my favourite because of her unlikely locavoire heroism. Mary deemed herself an inept housewife, and yet , this witch-like, maybe even mad character, is my favourite because of her authenticism in making stews, in using cinnamon, in inspiring me to be a better cook.
Today I write a letter. Mary Boulton, this one is addressed to you.
Today I write a letter to Mary Boulton, because if you’ve been following this blog for some time you’ve probably noticed many posts where Mary and the heaviness of her black skirts and her use of cinnamon and her seemingly un-tasty stews made me stock up my pantry with spices. I consistently attended farmer’s markets. I tried to eat locally. I dreamed of rabbit stew. I decided I should become a hunter (this is something I’m seriously pursuing now). I looked at cooking not just to produce a meal but as a way of living. I desperately tried to create a woodland feel in my kitchen.
I read about Mary and I roasted hazelnuts. I roasted hazelnuts so that my home would feel warm. I became a nutmeg advocate, because well, it really does deserve to regain its indispensable spot in the kitchen.
Today I write to Mary and I roast hazelnuts.
Well, I actually can’t mail this letter to a fictional character. So I address this one to Mary and I mail it to Gil Adamson. To House of Anansi Press. I feel both embarrassed and excited at the same time. This is my first fan mail. Will Gil think I’m crazy when she reads a letter addressed to Mary? Oh gosh, I hope not. I roast hazelnuts.
And I make pie. Mary was resourceful. She fled to the mountains and she set on surviving. I make pie. I tell my story to dough. I survive.
I roll out dough. And I think about what Mel said: we read fiction so we know we are not alone. Mary Boulton, this one is addressed to you.
This is the pie crust recipe I use. It never fails me. I keep all ingredients cold. COLD. And I work quickly. I talk to the dough and it cooperates. I think we’ve formed a special relationship. It comes out flaky. It comes out buttery. I like this pie crust recipe.
This one will be an apple pie. I think Mary would approve. I make sure to add a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg. This one is for you Mary.
Pie goes in the oven.
I look at the ball of dough left-over on my counter and I think of Mary.
Dear Mary Boulton,
This one is addressed to you and your stews. I wonder what Gil Adamson would think about you inspiring my cookery. Mary, this one is addressed to you. Now, here is a slice of pie!
Melly and Mojgan’s Mail Marathon. That’s what we’d called it.
Day 6 is pie day and I’ve used this Smitten Kitchen apple pie recipe — with the addition of a lot more nutmeg of course.
The Deal: To each write one letter a day in March (Monday to Friday)
The Rules: Letters to be hand-written and documented on our blogs
The Inspiration: Mary Robinette Kowal and her Challenge: “A Month of Letters”