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Exactly what it sounds like: peach pie, inspired by “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot

This month (June 8th) saw the 100th anniversary of the publication of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” It is an odd but seminal poem in the American canon that uses the full range of poetic devices to give texture to one man’s struggle with age.

Spoiler-Free Summary:

Although the poem was published when Eliot was only twenty-six, it was composed as a man’s middle-aged lament. I suppose in that respect Eliot shares a lot of similarities with the ennui-filled Brooklyn literati boys I know. Difference being, of course, that Eliot didn’t wear vests ironically, Prufrock is full of discordant genius and anxiety that makes me cry, and I don’t care if your self-pub chapbook is coming out in July. Read the full poem here.

Notes From The Piebrary:

Apparently Eliot had a hell of a time getting this bad boy published. When it found its way into the hands of the editor at Poetry and Drama, Harold Munro, Munro declared it “absolutely insane” and rejected it. Of course it took someone of like mind and vision, and when Eliot met Ezra Pound in London some months later, September 1914, the expat American saw its promise. “The best poem I have yet had or seen from an American,” he wrote to Harriet Monroe, the editor of Poetry, “PRAY GOD IT BE NOT BE A SINGLE AND UNIQUE SUCCESS.” Monroe published Prufrock the following June.

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Parsing This Pie:

Again, I wish I was better as parsing poetry. I’d love to better articulate my ideas about musicality and the fact that it’s a “love song” and yet the narrator spends all of this time watching life happen without engaging with it. Especially the women in the poem, coming and going from the room. It feels as though you’re roaming the streets of a gloomy city, following behind the speaker, anonymously but intimately observing him.

Long as it is, I always find myself taking this poem in piecemeal. As a line or turn of phrase comes along I like to pick it up and inspect it, like a shell on the beach, before putting it back down and moving on to the next. Michelangelo, rolled trousers, mermaids. The yellow fog. (I love that god damn yellow fog.)

In the same stanza as the mermaids’ first mention, towards the end of the poem, the narrator asks, “do I dare to eat a peach?” and it strikes me as extremely sad. To have a crisis cut you so deeply that the simple, god-given pleasure of a peach should feel out of reach is heartbreaking. To my mind, a summer peach seasoned in cinnamon and nutmeg is redemptive and divine.

Recipe:

Crust:
-2 cups flour
-2/3 cup unsalted butter
-5 tbs water
-1 egg, beaten for wash
-handful of sugar, to top egg wash

Filling:
-8 medium peaches
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup cornstarch
-1 tbs cinnamon
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tbs whiskey
-1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Follow the directions on our basic crust tutorial to create a quantity of 1 double crust.

Cut the peaches into slices approximately 1/4 of an inch thick. In a large bowl, combine peaches with all the other ingredients for the filling and turn over until the fruit is completely coated. Allow this mixture to sit and rest while you roll the dough and line your pie pan. When you transfer the filling to the crust, you still want the peaches to be coated in the sugar and spiced goodness, but you want to leave as much liquid in the bowl as possible.

For most fruit pies I like to give the top crust an egg wash and then sprinkle it liberally with sugar so that it forms a crystallized shell in the oven. Delicious.

Bake for 45-55 minutes.

My slice is pictured with a scoop of salted cracked caramel ice cream Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn, but I also recommend Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s (of Columbus, Ohio) salty caramel as well. Take one slice to ease an existential crisis, and call me in the morning.

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