Nora Ephron’s Key Lime Pie

Nora Ephron’s autobiographical novel, “Heartburn,” is all about food.  Well, food and a failed marriage.  The story revolves around a woman named Rachel who when seven months pregnant with her second child discovers that her husband, Mark, is having an affair.  My favorite chapter is the last in which a postpartum Rachel smashes a pie in her husband’s face at a friend’s dinner party.  The film version starring Meryl Streep is heartbreaking, but somehow the scene is quite funny on the page.  Below is an excerpt and the recipe.  Just in case you ever need to throw a pie at someone.

     If I had it to do over again, I would have made a different pie.  The pie I threw at Mark made a terrific mess, but a blueberry pie would have been even better, since it would have permanently ruined his new blazer, the one he bought with Thelma.  But Betty said bring a Key lime pie, so I did.  The Key lime pie is very simple to make.  First you line a 9-inch pie plate with graham cracker crust.  Then beat 6 egg yolks.  Add 1 cup lime juice (even bottled lime juice will do), two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tablespoon grated lime rind.  Pour into the pie shell and freeze.  Remove from freezer and spread with whipped cream.  Let sit five minutes before serving.

      I realize now that I should have thrown the pie (or at least done the thinking that led to the throwing of the pie) several weeks earlier than I did, but it’s very hard to throw a pie at someone when you’re pregnant, because you feel so vulnerable.  Also, let’s face it, I wasn’t ready to throw the pie.  I should add that the pie was hardly the first thing I’d thought of throwing at Mark, but every other time I’d wanted to throw something at him, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Once, for example, right after I found out about him and Thelma, I’d been seized by a violent impulse, but the only thing I could see to throw at the time was a signed Thonet chair, and I am far too bourgeois to throw a signed Thonet anything at anyone.  Some time later, especially while I was in the hospital, I gave considerable thought to smashing Mark’s head in with a very good frying pan I had bought at the Bridge kitchenware company, but I always knew I would never do anything of the sort, and in any case, smashing your husband’s head in with a frying pan seems slightly too fraught with feminist content, if you know what I mean.

(Even now, I wonder if I would have thrown the pie had we been eating in Betty’s dining room.  Probably not.  On the floor in Betty’s dining room is a beautiful Oriental rug, and I would have been far too concerned about staining it.  Fortunately, though, we were eating in the kitchen, and the kitchen has a linoleum floor.  That’s how bourgeois I am: at the split second I picked up the pie to throw it at Mark, at the split second I was about to do the bravest–albeit the most derivative thing I had ever done in my life, I thought to myself: Thank God the floor is linoleum and can be wiped up.)

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