THIS PAST WEEK, a tragic thing happened to a member of the food blogging community. Jennifer Perillo, author of In Jennie’s Kitchen, unexpectedly lost her beloved husband Mikey (father to their two girls) to a heart attack. In one instant, her world turned upside-down. Suddenly, she must take one breath at a time and learn to live in a new, if bereft, way.
I am not close to Jennie—she may not even remember me—but we’ve crossed paths through our common involvement in Food52 and the community’s events in NYC. I always admired her warmth and creativity. Now I admire her strength as well. I don’t know how, heartbroken, she managed to write a blog post for Mikey. The post tells about the wedding ring that should still be on his finger, but that she now wears on a chain around her neck. It mentions that he loved peanut butter cream pie and provides the recipe. Here’s a quote from the end of the post:
For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.
On Friday, August, 12, 2011, I—like untold numbers of other people (word spread quickly through Twitter hashtag #apieformikey and via a special Facebook page)—made a Peanut Butter Pie for Mikey. I’d like to say that Jennie’s recipe is the best of its kind I’ve ever tasted, even if these circumstances made it bittersweet.
My son helped me make the pie, and he helped me eat it. My husband, ever at work in the restaurant, hasn’t had any yet, but I’ll make sure he does.
And I promise this to Jennie and her girls and the memory of her beloved Mikey: that I will do my best to remember what she wants us all to know, that the time allotted to us on this earth is of unknown duration, and that it’s important to make time for what’s important. For favorite foods and hugs.
Mostly, today, I’m thankful to be part of a community of people who care for each other with love and empathy and who understand about nourishing the body—but more importantly, the hearts and souls of others.
Post Script: For one of the most beautiful tributes to Mikey, Jennie, and the power of love in food, watch this stunning video tribute for Mikey by Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice. Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby.
Note: If you missed the peanut butter pie day (though it’s never too late to make one), and you want to help Jennie in this difficult time, please see Shauna Ahern’s post for information.