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My inspiration to pursue different things comes from the oddest places. After watching the 1992 Olympics, I became inspired to try figure skating. When I read about one of the twin sisters in the “Sweet Valley High” book series working on the high school newspaper, I thought I would give journalism a try.
And as a result of watching the main character in a movie serve up slices of a pie called Chocolate Strawberry Oasis, I strolled down the aisles of the grocery store looking for the ingredients to make this dessert myself.
I found a recipe for this pie online and I faithfully followed this recipe in hopes of producing a sweet treat that another character in the movie described as “dark and bittersweet, like an old love affair.”
The product of my efforts did not bring these hopes to fruition, but I do have a fun story to share.
First, the recipe instructed me to melt a bar of chocolate with some butter. Easy enough. Next I was to mix in a package of marshmallows. The package I had was enormous so I just put in a cup of mini marshmallows.
As I stirred the marshmallows and the little, white puffs disappeared, the chocolate mixture expanded. I was pretty content with what I saw.
Then I wasn’t. The quantity of the mixture did not look adequate. I imagined that anyone eating a slice of the pie would only get a pea-sized amount of the chocolate mixture. So I added another pile of marshmallows.
The last step was to mix in some cream before throwing the whole concoction into the fridge to cool.
I was directed to dice up the strawberries and then mash some of the pieces before adding sugar.
Mashing food is something I excel at. There’s a rather infamous story in my family about the time my mother asked me to shake a Ziplock bag filled with scallops and a sauce so that the scallops would be nicely coated.
I got carried away with this task and the end product was more akin to scallop paste.
So armed with a fork, I attempted to once again show food just who was the boss. I scooped the crimson, saucy strawberries into a pot and added some cornstarch and the remaining diced berries.
The final step was to dollop the chocolate onto the pie crust before topping it with the strawberries.
When I was finished, the pie crust was overflowing. Red liquid pooled up against the neat squiggles of pie dough that ran along the edge of crust.
I wasn’t worried about this setback, even in the morning when I opened the fridge door and saw that a sticky liquid had dribbled out from the pie and formed a puddle at the bottom of the fridge. I had followed the recipe so everything, I reasoned, was fine.
I cleaned up the mess and spread a paper towel on the bottom of the fridge to catch any future drippings.
Later that day when I removed the sodden towel from the fridge, I resorted to just covering the entire pie, top and bottom, with tin foil.
I felt excited about taking this pie to my parents’ house for dessert.
This excitement was dashed when I uncovered it from the layers of tin foil and saw the dessert in its entirety.
It was a muddied, runny, liquid mess.
The chocolate never gelled or condensed, but rather had the same consistency as chocolate sauce that is poured onto ice cream sundaes. Plus, the strawberries had pretty much disintegrated into goo.
It wasn’t at all like the beautiful pie in the movie. A pie so great, it was sold out at the restaurant where it was served. Mine, on the other hand, got pitched.
My parents were great sports, however. My mother said it had a good taste and my father said he thought it was great that I gave the pie a try.
Thinking back on this experience, it’s similar to many of my inspirations. It failed to live up to my expectations.
I was never able to be an Olympic skater or execute social justice in a high school newspaper like people I saw on TV or read about in books. Now I’ve learned I’ll never be an award-winning baker. But that’s OK.
I find the stories of where inspirations take people to be more valuable.
They help you learn, grow and move on. And that’s one thing my inspirations have never failed to do.