Shelley is a picturesque farming town in southern Idaho. It’s home to Frontier Pies and Restaurant, scene of the Great Mince Pie Caper.
One day in early January, a lone Snowbird was heading south from Canada on I-15. He took the advice of friends and stopped at Frontier Pies. The restaurant boasts 29 varieties of the popular dessert. The traveler was a fan of mince pie. For him, few after dinner treats could rival a thick slice of hot mince pie, piled high with vanilla ice cream. Yum!
Being so soon after that ‘Biggest Mince Pie Celebration of the Year’ – some call it Christmas – the Snowbird naturally assumed the momentum of the season would mean Frontier’s famous mince pies would be available well into January. It was not to be.
The traveler arrived, appetite on alert. He was escorted to a quaint booth. It belonged to a caravan of booths parked along windows with an expansive view of snow-covered farmland. The booths were in character with the restaurant’s name – each was adorned with a canopy reminiscent of the covered wagons that once struggled across the western plains where Shelley now stands.
The menu offered standard fare . . . looking much the same as the traveler had seen dozens of times earlier. But the place was almost full, and it was mid-afternoon. Customers included numerous truckers . . . an encouraging sign. Their presence usually meant good food. As it turned out, the signs conveyed the truth.
As the main course came and went, the traveler’s mind was never far from mince pie and ice cream. He imagined how it would be presented. He caught the server’s eye. She was a bright one: smart, middle aged, good sense of humor. And she responded in the spirit of the traveler’s innocent flirtations.
“Looks like you’ve earned dessert,” she quipped. “Your plate’s empty.”
“Oh yes,” relied the satiated Snowbird. “Now, we come to the best part . . . why I’m here.”
“Oh, really?” the server said, curious, acting just a bit flirtatious as well. “And what would that be?”
“The mince pie!” cried the traveler, his enthusiasm barely under control. “It’s time for the mince pie! Warmed up, please . . . with lots of vanilla ice cream on top. That’s why I stopped here. Heard about your pies.”
“Oh dear,” replied the server, disappointment on her face. “We stopped serving mince pie after Christmas. I’m really sorry, sir. Can I get you something else?”
Disaster! The traveler was crestfallen. This was unbelievable. It just couldn’t be! There he sat, contemplating the egregious bad luck that Fate had heaped upon him.
“We could do something similar,” the server said helpfully. “How about Dutch apple pie with Oatmeal Streusel? It’s nice and spicy like mince pie. And I can put some ice cream on it for you.
“Would you like to try that?” she added in a creamy-smooth tone.
The traveler, still contemplating the depths of Fate’s mean temperament, gazed up into the server’s consoling eyes.
“Heated,” he replied sadly, as he lowered his head. And then added, “Please”.
“Oh,” he said as she turned to leave. “Vanilla ice cream. Lots of it.”
“Yes,” she smiled back over her shoulder.
The Snowbird was studying his road map when the server returned. She arrived from behind his right shoulder, with a surprise.
Before him, she placed the largest slice of pie he’d ever seen. The thought flashed through his mind: ‘the pie plate must be the size of a rain barrel lid’.
And then the pièce de résistance . . . the crowning touch. The ice cream! A mountain of it . . . piled so high the only safe way to tackle it had to be with climbing spikes and ropes.
The other restaurant servers gathered around to watch the spectacle. They clapped as the traveler rolled up his sleeves, figuratively, and dove in . . . also figuratively.
He finished it!
The Snowbird staggered up to the cashier. His belly was mightily full. But there remained still, a nagging feeling deep down in the pit of that over-full belly . . . a fiercely unrequited craving . . . for the real thing. Oh, for a piece of hot mince pie à la mode!
But that would be another time.