Three Saturdays ago at Six Flags Magic Mountain, I tried the pumpkin pie I had been thinking about all day, at a table outside the Cyber Cafe in the central plaza with the glut of souvenir shops. It was the best one I had had in all the eight years I'd lived in the Santa Clarita Valley, though I don't think I'd been into pumpkin pie when we moved here. I remember many lemon meringue pies, some chocolate pies, an apple pie or two. I think I'd tried pumpkin pie when this valley began to get to me in the last four years. It's the one pie that's solid in nature, reliable, able to pull you through anything, a great comfort when you need it and even when you don't.
This particular slice had the perfect balance of pumpkin, spices and sugar. No one flavor dominated another and whoever made it knew just how much spice to put in. I vowed to e-mail Six Flags Magic Mountain and ask who had made the pie. I wanted to buy more.
I got a call this past Monday from a woman who works at Magic Mountain, possibly overseeing the food they sell there. I didn't ask. I was shocked because I didn't remember e-mailing Magic Mountain about the pie. Did I e-mail them that night, after I'd gotten home from the park? Did I e-mail them after getting home from Burbank after a day of IKEA, the Burbank Town Center Mall (and a few games of Simpsons pinball, Galaga, and a game of air hockey), and Barnes & Noble? After I thanked the woman for the information and hung up, I tried to figure it out. I honestly don't remember. I must have been really tired whenever I e-mailed them, yet I still was able to form whole words.
The woman told me that the pumpkin pie had come from Sysco. Sysco! The food distributor! Meridith was surprised when I told her where the pumpkin pie had come from, and told me she had heard something about them having test kitchens somewhere. Maybe that's true, to make sure that the products they push are of the quality they need them to be, but this pumpkin pie could not have come from a committee. This had to have come from the mind and heart of someone who had grown up with pumpkin pie, who had seen relatives make it, who saw how much nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger to put in, who had made their own as they got older and learned how they liked it and what worked best.
I doubt I'll be able to find that one person, if it even was one person who had come up with the recipe, but I've got to search. I've got to know. Even three weeks after, I still remember the taste of that pumpkin pie, and before I embark on my quest to find other great pumpkin pies in Las Vegas, along with chili-cheese and other covered fries, marinara sauce (Not the crappy, liquidy marinara sauces I've had here), and quesadillas, I want to get on the trail of this particular pumpkin pie, just to know.
Once businesses get back up and running after the start of 2012, and I'm deep into my book research again, I'll use the pumpkin pie search as an occasional break from it. There's a Los Angeles branch of Sysco with an "800" number, and I'll start there. I know it's a corporation, so it's very likely that they won't be as easily forthcoming as the woman from Six Flags was, but I've got to try. And even if nothing comes of it, that taste will be a good start for my pumpkin pie search in Las Vegas, to find one just as good or better than that one. I don't see how it's possible, but it can be there.