Christmas is one of those holidays that can be equal parts magic and mayhem. I love it but it is also a stressful time for a great many people. Travel delays, stroppy children, dwindling bank accounts, family feuds, maxed out credit cards, roasts gone awry, or a mother-in-law who still corresponds and exchanges holiday cards with your husband’s ex-girlfriend though you’ve been married for 5 years and have a child. What I’m saying is there are many things to get on your nerves and make you feel grouchy when you want to feel merry.
In 1966 alto saxophonist, Cannonball Adderley, performed a song his pianist wrote. He gives an introduction to the piece that he delivers like a church sermon:
You know, sometimes we’re not prepared for adversity. When it happens sometimes, we’re caught short. We don’t know exactly how to handle it when it comes up. Sometimes we don’t know just what to do when adversity takes over. And I have advice for all of us. I got it from my pianist Joe Zawinul who wrote this tune and it sounds like what you’re supposed to say when you have that kind of problem. It’s called Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.
If you listen you’ll hear that this song has a 20 bar structure with 4 distinct sections just as this pie has 4 distinct sections–pastry, oatmeal, pecans, and pears. It’s a dessert that serves the comfort of a crumble in a buttery crust with a pear and oatmeal center that’s soft and treacly while still providing a bit of crunch thanks to the chopped pecans. Basically it tastes of clemency and feels like a hug. Which is exactly what I want and sometimes need during the holidays especially when I’m crying mercy, mercy, mercy. So whether it’s a slice for yourself or somebody else, try spreading a little around this festive season. It might be just what your heart needs to get you feeling the love and magic again.
Merry Christmas, readers, and happy new year!
1/2 recipe of only the best brisée ever
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs beaten
3/4 c golden syrup
1/4 c melted butter, slightly cooled
2 tsp vanilla
1 c uncooked oatmeal
1 c chopped pecans
1 c peeled chopped pear