Old traditions never die

lemon meringue pie from allrecipesI have a hankering for lemon meringue pie.

My mother used to make it around this time of year which was always during “Lent,” the time of year Christians are encouraged to abstain from something, usually something sweet.

She had “seasons” for some foods. February and July were cherry times — February for the president’s birthday holiday and July because that’s when the cherries are ripe. She would make pies or strudel or something else but it would have cherries in it.

Christmas was the time for all those wonderful nut pastries.

Donuts were plentiful right before lent but I never figured out why she made lemon meringue pie in March.

It’s not like we had a lemon tree or anything. Nor did we tint it green for St. Patrick’s Day.

Despite the fact that we were devout Catholics, we didn’t give up desserts for Lent. Good grief we weren’t crazy.

The experts say that you shouldn’t set yourself up for failure. Make your goals realistic. Giving up desserts would have been off the charts crazy – not the way my mother baked. Yum!

I would give up something that I kind of liked but could possibly live without. I remember giving up eye shadow when I was around eleven. No, I wasn’t allowed to wear it which made it so much easier.

After all, if you didn’t succeed, you were doomed. Since I already had a morbid fear of possibly committing one of those sins in my prayer book that I didn’t understand – like adultery or suicide. (There was no Google back then and both of those were taboo topics to discuss with kids.)

I wasn’t taking any chances. I planned on going to heaven eventually – when I was really old – much older than I am now!

In school we were instructed to give up candy. To reinforce it, the school closed the candy concession and we had a pretzel break every day. If Sister Catalda knew the truth she would have freaked out. I liked pretzels better than the stale candy they sold in my small school.

If you’re going to sell candy, make it the good stuff. Forget the Good and Plenty or the Dots, bring on the Three Musketeers and Snickers!

Fortunately at home, my mother didn’t give up anything and there was no way I was going to tell her I wasn’t eating her pie. After all there were starving children somewhere.

That brings me back full circle. I need to make a trip to our local bakery and get a small lemon meringue pie. This is a “Lenten” sacrifice I’m doing for my mother. There must have been a sound logical reason why you should eat it during March. I just don’t know what it is.

Photo credits: Allrecipes





44 thoughts on “Old traditions never die

  1. I can’t imagine a more refreshing pie! There’s something about the sweet and tart that comes together for a perfect pie! I love when you share stories of your mom, Kate. I can tell she was simply a wonderful person! I hope you have a piece of lemon meringue pie in her honor!


  2. Lemon meringue pie is my all time favorite and no one makes it like I remember it. I hate a meringue that sticks to your fork and the roof of your mouth. That photo made my mouth water and no way to fix that. Bummer.


    • It’s probably my favorite pie. Chocolate cream or pudding pie is a favorite too. As is coconut cream. Oh dear, I guess I have a few favorites but it is definitely a warm weather (or as warm as March gets) thing.


      • Yeah … coconut cream is fairly divine as well. My mom makes Flapper pie … oohh ahhh. it’s a creamy concoction with a graham cracker crust, meringue and more graham cracker crumblage. I love pie! 🙂


  3. I didn’t become a Catholic until I was 18, so I don’t have any childhood memories of giving up candy. Since then, I’ve never been very successful in giving up something for Lent. This year I’m not even trying. I’m already giving up too many things for health reasons. Is it just me, or are we Americans unsuited for fasting?


  4. Oh, lemon pie – nothing better. How funny – now that I think of it, we did have seasons for foods. Maybe by March we were all desperate for some memory of sun and warmth – so of course, Lemon meringue. Mom disliked cooking, but I had an aunt that was a home ec. teacher…yummmy to visit!


  5. I would give up something that I kind of liked but could possibly live without. I remember giving up eye shadow when I was around eleven. No, I wasn’t allowed to wear it which made it so much easier. SO FUNNY….I would have loved your mother. Next to Key Lime and Banana Cream, Lemon Meringue is my favorite. I’m a pieaholic. if you must know.

    Lent, I remember giving up my mother who didn’t think that was so funny.
    I said, but you’re suppose tp give up something you love…she still didn’t buy it.
    My plan was to stay at Lucille Collangelo’s house till Easter…see how pie evokes memories? Funny essay Kate!!!


  6. It would be practically sacrilegious NOT to have lemon meringue pie in March, so good for you for keeping the tradition alive. Wonder why it was March? Perhaps to bring a little sunshine in to welcome the heralding of Spring. Or to cleanse the palate after all that Christmas and Valentine’s chocolate. For whatever the reason, enjoy the citrusy deliciousness!


  7. Amazing how vivid our food memories are. Lemon meringue sounds lovely, but it’s not chocolate! What’s the point? Pick me up a chocolate cream while you’re at the bakery, then we can all be happy. 🙂


  8. Funny story regarding Lent – my mother would cook smoked-whiting for my father, the house would reek for days afterwards, for almost 45 years on Good Friday this happened before my darling father was brave enough to admit that he didn’t like it, NEVER had, lol! 🙂


  9. My mother baked the most delicious, beautiful pies; makes my mouth water just thinking about them. Years ago I loved making the lemon pie recipe on the Eagle Brand Condensed milk can…ooh, it was delish. My father-in-law and his father were in the bakery business years ago and the smells alone from their shop would send one into a state of pleasure! Ooh, sweets!!!
    My husband and I are not Catholic but we have/are giving up something for Lent this year; coffee, which both of us love. Also, I have given up bread and ice cream…two of my favorites. No cheating…zip! Hubby can’t give up much along those lines ’cause we must keep his weight from plummeting.
    Thanks for the memories and the pic of that pie? Drool-able…absolutely. Enjoy yours!


  10. Kate you bring back some memories. The candy concession! Iremember Fire Stix, I ruined my front teeth on them! And I had a Mother Norberta! She didn’t like me because I was an only. My Mom could make a cherry pie.. 🙂 You will let us know if you enjoyed the pie? Seems perfect for March. It’s a light Springie kind of pie. I don’t give anything up for Lent anymore. This year I am adding something for Lent, a suggestion made by another blogger. Like a pay it forward thing.


    • I like the idea of adding something for Lent. I could do that. I wasn’t a favorite of the nuns either. My mother didn’t bake for them and my dad didn’t come and repair their house. Those things seemed to mean a lot in our church.


  11. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. My mother made the best lemon meringue pie. She always made it for Easter Sunday dinner. I wonder why lemon was associated with Easter back then? And how it is that all our mothers could make that pie which today we’d consider much too complicated to make? Topics to ponder, topics to research.


    • Well that’s easy-peasy. I don’t know why it was made when it was but we are too lazy to make it. I have made it a few times (not anytime recently) and it’s testy. You have to watch stuff or it weeps or separates or gets rubbery. I swear it’s one of those things best eaten the day it’s made. I am also glad to hear that another mother made it for Easter. We had it before Easter but the timing is still the same.


      • I’ve never tried to make a lemon meringue pie. Kudos to you. I can remember my mother bemoaning the fact that her meringue was weepy, instead of perfectly browned. I don’t think that I could live with the shame of that… so I won’t even try to make one. 😉


  12. Lemon meringue is my all-time favorite and it was something my mother baked very well. I needed cuddling very much one day and the tops of the lemon meringue pies got a little more brown than she would have liked. She sometimes affectionately referred to me as “her time waster.” Ah, I can taste the tartness of the lemon layer and the way that marvelous meringue just melted in my mouth. Lemon meringue, as far as I am concerned, should be eaten any time of year.


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