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Mince Meat

By Dan LeMay

Christmas has come and is long gone, except for the much-maligned fruitcake. And one other thing: the genuine mincemeat pie. The closest you can buy around here as special order at Marie Calendars is mince pie, no meat. My grandfather, who was born in a soddy on the Kansas prairie, said that Christmas is simply not Christmas without mince-meat pie. He scoffed at the available bland concoctions of raisins, apples, spices and stuff.

Many years ago, he was visiting my parents in California for a long Christmas vacation and took it upon himself to set things right by supplying the mince-meat pies. He wrote to his daughter in Massachusetts and pleaded with her to send some real Christmas mince-meat pies. She did, with profuse apologies for needing to substitute flank steak and liver for the more proper venison.

Nobody noticed the substitution when the package arrived by regular mail in early January, because no one would try it. The aroma was…well…powerfully authentic. Grandfather was thrilled. The rest of us ate fruitcake.

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