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Key Lime Pie

A pie that does not end in Florida

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The pie that was the 'key' to bringing my dad happiness...

  • Mar 28, 2009
Rating:
+5
Anytime I ever taste a key lime pie or even see the name, all I can think about is my father, Art.. To share the story,, my dad moved to Miami, Florida at around the age of ten, stayed through his days at the University of Miami as an under grad and then medical school student, until he finally moved west to do his residency at UCLA and made Los Angeles his home..

It's funny, of all the time he spent in Florida, the most lasting memory I have of his stories from that part of his life, was his fondness for Florida's key lime pie. He had strong opinions of how thick the graham cracker crust should be, the consistency of the filling, but probably most importantly, the relation of sweet and tart from the delicate, seasonal key lime. It was life's simple and real pleasures that really drove him.. Doing an amazing job taking care of massive amounts of patients as a psychiatrist, being an unbelievably caring and devoted father and husband, rooting on UCLA football and basketball and his love for key lime pie..

Most unfortunately, my father was diagnosed with the worst form of brain cancer about six years ago and finally passed away after a courageous and graceful fight approximately 18 months later.. His condition led us to several trips to the east coast to visit and be treated by the best oncologists in the U.S., with the main treatment center located in the Washington DC area. On our first visit, after an extremely emotional meeting with the doctors, we chose to have dinner at the nearby Houston's in Washington DC. It was at that meal, which my dad had Houston's key lime pie for the first time.  He went on and on about how it was the only key lime pie he has had that rivals his favorites from Florida.. For the moment, the depressing news from the day and the reason why were in Washington DC was a distant memory. The DC Houston's location and experience was truly a blessing..

We made several trips to this treatment center in the ensuing months.  Each was filled with an analysis of whether the most recent, often radical, medical treatments were showing any signs of slowing the cancer and on some occasions even filled with estimated timetables as to how much time he may have left. After each visit, we would routinely go straight from the hospital to the Washington DC Houston's for dinner, but more importantly so we can treat him with a slice of his newly favorite key lime pie. Just knowing he was going to be having the key lime pie seemed to help mitigate this most stressful of circumstances; it was the magic bullet to help cope with such an incredibly anxious and emotional time. He'd always emphasize how Houston's key lime pie was on the same playing field as the big boys in Florida..

He went through a couple different phases, during various points of his treatment, pertaining to his diet. At one point, he was almost exclusively eating tofu and soy.. From the time he was diagnosed to the time of his passing, I had a routine that I would stay over with him, at the house I grew up in Encino, every Tuesday night. It was kind of like Tuesday's with Art.. At one point in time during this stretch, he made a complete 180-degree shift with his diet. He decided he no longer wanted to eat what he didn't enjoy, that could hopefully add a few days or weeks to his life, to eating exactly what he felt would bring him the highest level of satisfaction from that point forward..

This is where I began to have a little fun with it. He was such an incredible father and role model for me; I loved every minute of bringing him enjoyment however possible. It would really be dictated by his cravings, I was no stranger to waiting in line at Pink's for hot dogs, which is just as crowded mid day on Tuesday afternoons by the way. It really was, whatever he wanted, he was going to get..

But my favorite was being able to deliver his favorite. Working in Century City, how convenient that there is a Houston's right there by my office. On the first Tuesday after my dad adopted his new eating perspective, I decided to pay a little visit to the local Houston's. I asked for the manager and shared my story. Buying a slice or two to bring to my dad was simply not enough. I negotiated how much a down payment would be for the glass pie dish and how much for a whole key lime pie. $75 later for deposit and $60 for the whole pie, I proudly walked out of there with all smiles, excitedly waiting to bring my dad home this newly purchased pie.

Needless to say what his reaction was to see me walk through the door with a full Houston's key lime pie. He would indulge himself until almost every last graham cracker crumb was gone over the next several days. Each week when seasonally available, I would take the empty glass pie dish back to Houston's and swap it out for a full pie to bring to him and start the process all over again. They say life is all about giving back.. I'm so grateful for the Houston's key lime pie, for it, I was able to bring my father such happiness and show him exactly how much I cared..
Key Lime Pie

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August 29, 2009
So well written... so true... and so close to my heart! Love it!!
September 03, 2009
yeah, it was a pretty emotional story to tell, but highly rewarding, a lot of memories at that dc houston's huh... let's touch base over next couple of days, we'll see if we can get you straight on here..:^)
 
May 01, 2009
It was really difficult to press the "fun to read" button for your review for obvious reasons but I did it anyhow even though I happen to be crying at the moment. I'm very picky about my Key Lime too and have never found one outside Florida that was acceptable--generally they are too sweet. How lucky for the both of you that you found one.
May 02, 2009
aww, thanks so much for the nice comment... keep me posted if you find one to your liking..:)
May 02, 2009
I shall indeed. Try not to make me cry anymore, okay?
 
April 22, 2009
At a time when his father was clinging to fading hopes that a successful treatment was possible, his son, so full of grief himself, somehow managed to give his dad a much needed escape from ever present specter of death. His ability to do that is evidence of the many years of love and companionship they shared. How many of us could rise above our own pain to find that special gift that would each day provide a loved one with something to look forward to and, perhaps, even a few moments of joy ? What a son and what a lucky dad !

As for key lime pie, I just got off the phone with the nearest Houstens and my wife and I will soon be checking out the crust and consistency of this special dessert. I am certain that our thoughts will return to this story which was sad, touching, and yet life affirming.
 
April 15, 2009
I'm not a big fan of key lime pie. In fact, it's one of a few pies I dislike. But your story was so touching that I HAVE to try it again.
April 18, 2009
aww, thanks jyaanga,,, if you can, try to catch it when seasonally available at houston's, thx for the nice comment..:)
 
April 10, 2009
I have probably only had Key Lime pie a half dozen times in my life. My wife and I don't eat out an awful lot and rarely opt for dessert. But Key Lime pie is definitely something I find to be irresistable. Having said that I really don't like it as much when the lime filling is of a gritty consistency. But when Key Lime pie is made right it is positively one of my favorites!  What a great story about your dad!  I can understand why this would put a smile on his face.  It was a marvelous gesture on your part!
 
April 03, 2009
Every time I think of this story, I picture you walking through the door for the first time with that full Houston's pie and think of the huge grin on you and your dad's face. Make's me smile and bring's a tear to my eye at the same time.
 
March 29, 2009
i love this story man. thanks for sharing it. I'm going to forward this on to the Houston's headquarters... this is something that they'd like to hear too. And i think of this story and your dad every time i have key lime pie too.
 
March 28, 2009
Wow! That was such a beautiful story! What a gift you gave your father. I'm sure he relished every moment with you even more than every bite of the key lime pie. Do you still eat key lime pie or is it too difficult? Thanks for sharing that. I'll think about it every time I eat key lime pie :-)
 
1
More Key Lime Pie reviews
Quick Tip by . June 17, 2012
Any Pay to share at a nice out side balcony with a nice fresh concersation?
Quick Tip by . June 02, 2010
Pretty good when you're in the mood. But really good as a yogurt flavor.
Quick Tip by . May 26, 2010
YUM YUM YUM
Quick Tip by . April 28, 2010
I love key lime pie and always make sure to have a slice when I'm on vacation in Florida. Good pie crust is essential!
Quick Tip by . March 25, 2010
Love this when it is done right but I find the recipes vary a great deal.
About the reviewer
Kenny Sorosky ()
Ranked #167
I'm all about waving when a car lets me in and not giving door dings. Funny, I don't recall ever giving a door ding, yet I've received tons over the years, hmmm, who are the ones that have … more
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About this food

Wiki

Key limes are the pink flamingos of Florida food, and they are a celebrated part of local color. Key West, Florida, is famous for its fabulous key lime pie, one of America's best-loved regional dishes. Every restaurant in the Florida Keys, and especially in the city of Key West, serves this wonderful pie. There seems to be a key lime pie for every palate, with numerous versions made throughout the region. This pie is considered the official pie of the Florida Keys.

Aficionados of key lime pies argue endlessly about the proper way to make one. Graham-cracker or pastry crust? Meringue on top or whipped cream, or neither? Cooked or uncooked filling? The one thing that they do agrees on is that under no circumstances should you ever add green food coloring. The filling of authentic key lime pie is a light yellow.

As to who made the first key lime pie, no one really knows for sure as it has never been documented. The most likely story is that William Curry (1821-1896), a ship salvager and Florida's first self-made millionaire (commonly referred to as rich Bill), had a cook that was simply know as Aunt Sally. It was Aunt Sally who created the pie in the late 1800s.  Some historians think that Aunt Sally didn't create the Key Lime Pie, but probably perfected a delicacy that was the creation of area fishermen. William Curry built a lavish mansion for his family in 1855 that still is being used today as the Curry Mansion Inn.

It was not until the 1930s that the first recipes were...

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