World Pie Domination (Starts in Africa)
Several weeks ago, a delightful woman called to talk to me about a PJP baking party. Most of her questions were pretty standard...and then she mentioned this party would be for a group from Cape Town, South Africa who would be baking - and eating - their first pie in America. By way of backstory, this particular group would be visiting Mizzou for two weeks to learn about sustainable food sourcing. And as a fun activity, the person in charge of scheduling the group thought that a pie baking party might just be the glimpse into American culture that this group might enjoy. And we were thrilled she considered us. And a bit worried we might have to eventually write an apology to Africa. Because on your very first trip to America, spending several hours baking pies with us could go many different ways with many different outcomes.
On the scheduled day of the party, Jeanne and I were on the struggle bus. We had one of those days that seemed against us from the beginning to the end. As we cleaned up the kitchen to set up for the 6 pm party, we threw a little of a pity party for two based on our day and our concern that a group of people had flown 27 hours to experience America - PJP included - and what if we let them down?
And as it turns out, our new friends from Cape Town, South Africa could be one of the most delightful things to happen to us since opening PJP. Funny how that works, isn't it?
The group was quiet for the most part as they arrived to PJP Buttonwood. We worked to learn each other's names and we worked to share our story without overwhelming them or boring them. But once we started to roll dough, everyone started to relax and the conversation started to flow. They had so many questions for us, from pie baking to family relationships to even questions about my kids and their schooling. And their perspective on America comparative to South Africa was fascinating (they think we are exceptionally friendly, our town very clean, our vegetation lush, and our Top 40 music is amazing).
And pie? Well, pie was a bit fascinating for them. They ate raw dough and baked dough. They ate sliced apples and apples covered in flour, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. They analyzed our refrigerator full of butter and asked about how our food arrived at PJP. We all shared a Chocolate Bourbon Pecan pie and THEY WERE FANS.
They called us "Miss Rebecca" and "Miss Jeanne". They all stood together and waved their positive energy upon us until we both cried because their kindness was palatable. And when they almost couldn't make us feel any more special, they presented us with presents from the University of the Western Cape. And took pictures with us like I was Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeanne was Blythe Danner (is that a stretch?). And flattery and presents aside, they believed that what we do at PJP matters. That working together and striving to #WorldPieDomination means something. And well, that meant everything to us.
All emotionally rattled around, we covered our new friends in PJP t-shirts and ink pens. When they excitedly shared their plans to wear their shirts on their journey home - airports in St. Louis, Detroit, Amsterdam, Johannesburg, and then Cape Town - I declared my marketing budget to be a total win for 2015. And when their guide mentioned that aprons were a status symbol in the culture in Cape Town, we said to ourselves "oh, we know a thing or two about good aprons..." This person's reaction to receiving this PJP apron will stand as one of the best reactions I've ever seen IN MY LIFE...
We know we have some of the very best jobs in the world. We just need to be reminded of it on occasion. And our new friends from Cape Town helped do that. So if you are reading this Chief, Jeff, Sheynain, Neldene, Demaris, and crew...you are the best. Thanks for making us A THING in Cape Town...