I have written a lot about food lately. 

But see, I start to write something about, like, Louis CK, whose comedy I have long enjoyed and who was one of the first mainstream figures to make me feel less alone about how much I hated the early days of parenting. And yet, I don’t really feel any kind of deep betrayal about the recent revelations that he’s a creep. I don’t feel any personal connection to him whatsoever.

That makes me start thinking about one of the first Tweets I ever read from my husband, well before he was my husband, that made me fall a little bit in love with him.

Well, I guess there were several – in this age of ubiquitous social media, it’s entirely possible to fall in love with someone’s digital footprint before you even see their face. First, before we even met, I read a blog post of his that was a beautiful, passionate, furious defense of post-Katrina New Orleans, and I loved every word of it. Then, once we’d been introduced but still weren’t friends, I read a very brief post that just said, “Enough with the f*cking truffle oil already!” and I thought, “Right on!” And then, on the day that Michael Jackson died, he Tweeted, “Michael Jackson’s death does not impact my life. You know what did? Losing my 17-year-old brother.”

I knew Robert by then, and we were friendly, but I didn’t know him well enough to know that part of his history, enough to know that he was a fellow member of the depressing Dead Sibling Club. And in the midst of people weeping who had never met nor would ever meet Michael Jackson, I felt this deep and cynical kinship to Robert.

I’ve never really gotten that, the sense of personal loss when a celebrity dies or hurt when a celebrity does something gross.

I’ve been sad, sure. I’ve been sad after the deaths of Robin Williams, Tom Petty, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, Fred Rogers. But I haven’t actually cried real tears or anything. Even as an eighth grader, I watched my best friend use an eraser to rub the word “Kurt” into her arm after Cobain’s suicide and thought, “Jesus, how dumb.”

And likewise, I don’t feel anything particularly complex about sordid details/allegations/rape convictions coming out about Bill Cosby, Darren Sharper (who was one of my favorite players in 2009-2010, even more than Drew Brees or Jeremy Shockey, probably), or Woody Allen.

It’s pretty easy for me to compartmentalize: They can do good things (tell jokes, intercept footballs, make brilliant movies) and still be garbage humans.

Or God, not even garbage humans.

Because then I start to think about my own dead brother, whom I adored despite the fact that he was constantly getting drunk and calling my house to verbally abuse my parents/disappointing me by promising to come to things and then not showing/leaving me places when he was supposed to be watching me.

Or my own beloved father, with whom I have lunch faithfully every week despite the fact that he abandoned me at Jazz Fest when I was 9 because he met the woman who would become his fourth wife and just … walked off/often referred to watching me as “babysitting” and told me as recently as last month that he was relieved my mother didn’t expect him to spend more time with me when I was a kid/once made me come with him to Angola so he could visit a friend and then left me waiting in the car with the windows rolled down reading a Judy Blume book for 90 minutes.

I guess it’s just not hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that people can contain multitudes.

Which is not to say that I don’t get it when people feel personally wounded by celebrities being pervs or actual criminals … but … I don’t feel that way.

Anyway, so I run through all of this in my head and realize it’s disjointed and doesn’t hang together at all and reopens old wounds for me and somehow manages to belittle people who feel differently than me, and I end up saying: Hey, who wants a recipe for mini-pumpkin chiffon pies in meringue shells?


Mini Pumpkin Chiffon Pies in Meringue Shells

Meringue Shells

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Beat egg whites and cream of tartar together in a stand mixer until foamy. Then increase speed and beat on high while adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and beat until glossy.

Put the meringue into a piping bag and pipe out eight cups (four on two parchment-lined baking sheets), using a spoon to hollow out the center. You can use a biscuit cutter to make these perfectly round or you can just freehand it.

Bake at 250 for 90 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave for another 30 minutes.

Make these the night before and place them (gently!) in an airtight container once cooled.


Pumpkin Chiffon Filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

In a saucepan, mix the sugar, gelatin, spices, and milk, and heat until the gelatin dissolves (do not let it boil). Beat the egg yolks (saved from your meringue shells; don’t you love when that works out?!) gently and then add some of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks before adding everything back into the saucepan. Add the pumpkin, bring to a gentle boil, and then drop the heat and let it simmer for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Beat the heavy cream with the sugar in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until soft peaks form; fold gently into the pumpkin mixture, and chill for another 30 minutes.

Pipe or spoon into meringue shells, and let set for 4 hours. Serve with more whipped cream and grated nutmeg on top.