Oh, Olallieberry

[HazeyDaze] posted an entry about Memorial Day that mentioned a co-worker's search for Olallieberry Pie, and it's made me think about how much that dessert has come to mean summer to me.

The first time I ever had it was in 1990, when Santa Cruz was just beginning to recover from the Loma Prieta quake. My friend Jen and I had joined my mother and her friend Diane for a chicks day at the beach, and we spent a lazy hour at an outdoor table chattering and eating pie, and drinking iced lattes.

Later, as Jen and I walked along in our USF t-shirts, one of the local homeless guys stopped us, not to beg for a handout, but to ask what USF stood for. Giddy from sugar and a summer day, we challenged him to make something up.

“Unique Short Females,” he suggested, and we giggled, more because the situation was amusing, than for any other reason. And because both Jen and I top out at five feet tall. “Up Standing Flirts,” he added, then shook his head, “Naah. It must be Union of Soap-bubble Fillers,” he decided, and because we appreciated the absurdity of that definition, we agreed. We chatted a bit, asked if he'd lost anything in the quake the previous fall, etc. And as we walked away, he called, “Tell Father Lo **** says hey.” He was referring to Father Lo Sciavo, of University of San Francisco, which is, of course, what the letters emblazoned on our t-shirts really meant.

Since then this uniquely northern California treat has become a sort of summer ritual. My favorite way to eat it is slightly warmer than room temperature, like a sun-ripened berry, and garnished with a scoop of coffee ice cream. Not vanilla. There's something about the creamy bitter-sweet-ness of coffee that makes the essence of olallieberry dance on the tongue.

We haven't been over the hill to Santa Cruz in a while, and the last time we were there we had the dogs, so didn't wander, didn't eat pie. Perhaps after the Toronto trip, if Fuzzy can break away from work long enough, we'll make our personal pilgrimage, and sit at the cafe near Bookshop Santa Cruz, and worship purple berries and cold ice cream on a hot summer's day.