Food Bloggers Make a Pie for Mikey

Aug 152011
 

A beautiful moment occured Friday in the food blogosphere. For an afternoon, all the anxiety and competition about being part of an online food writing community faded away, and people came together in support of food blogger Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie’s Kitchen, who lost her husband suddenly to a heart attack.

It started in a touching post Perillo wrote about Mikey’s favorite pie. People had written her, asking what they could do to help. She suggested they bake a pie:

“As I spend Friday reflecting on the love and life that was gone in an instant, I’d like to invite all of you to celebrate his life too. Mikey loved peanut butter cream pie. I haven’t made it in a while, and I’ve had it on my to-do list for a while now.

I kept telling myself I would make it for him tomorrow. Time has suddenly stood still, though, and I’m waiting to wake up and learn to live a new kind of normal. 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.”

And bake they did, not just individual food bloggers, friends, and acquaintances, but writers on websites like Food52, Eatocracy and the Food Network. Here’s a look at some of the online events and posts that occurred Friday, the day of Mikey’s memorial service:

Follow these links to find many moving posts. Also read Shauna James Ahern’s early and beautiful post about Jennifer.

When I taught my Saturday class on food blogging, I reminded students that blogging is about being part of an interactive community. I showed them the video White on Rice made about the event, and we all shed a tear together.

I thought about why food obsessed people like us cook. It’s a nonverbal way to express ourselves to the people we love. To say, “I did this for you.” Over the weekend, dozens of people did it for Mikey, someone they probably never met, for that reason and another: To celebrate being alive.

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  34 Responses to “Food Bloggers Make a Pie for Mikey”

  1. It really was an amazing coming together of the food community, and I felt so proud to belong to this incredible group. I was with Jennie when the pie posts started rolling in, and it was so, so moving – for both of us. This is really a testament to Jennie, too. She believes in nourishing not only the body, but the heart and soul, too, with food. This was a perfect gift to her and to Mikey.

  2. Thanks for this thoughtful piece, Dianne. While I am not familiar with her blog, I read of Jennifer Perillo’s tragic loss and applaud her remarks. As one who was widowed when very young (I was 29) I too know that there is no tomorrow to be relied upon – there is only what we have here, now and we all need to remember to appreciate this.

    • That is truly the message, Amanda. The moment is all we have. I’m so sorry you were widowed young as well.

  3. Jennie’s post made me cry — and so did yours, DJ.

    As a tribute to you both, I’m baking Mikey’s peanut butter pie to follow the spaghetti and meatballs that will always remind me of your amazing cousin Dana (http://bit.ly/hzJDIp).

  4. This global online community movement was truly amazing and I’m sure it touched Jennifer and her family right at the heart. Just a few days before she tweeted about her loss, I had wondered about what happens nowadays, in our global society, when something tragic happens. Most of us now have many online friends scattered all around the world and I wondered how things would go if something happened to me. Who would take care of my Facebook and Twitter accounts? Who would tell my online friends? Who would even know who are my online friends? This may sound mundane but it seems to me that this online social activity takes so much space in our lives that it probably has to be considered with as much importance as “real life” now.

    What happened to Jennifer showed that being part of an online community is a true tangible thing and I’m sure all the support she received will help her and her daughters get through their tragic loss. I’m amazed that she was able to tweet and post throughout the ordeal, I think it shows that she did find comfort by doing so.

    • This is an interesting set of questions, Marie. A week ago I saw tweets about Jennifer, but didn’t know what happened until I finally asked a blogger for more details. I also wonder about the choice Jennifer made to share her story and grief with the world in such a public way. Not everyone can do it. In a way it’s an acknowledgement of how much that community means to her, that she would share her story.

      As for what happens to accounts after people are gone, when my cousin Dana died, his Facebook page became a way for people to post messages to him, and a way for me to let people know he had passed and to invite them to his funeral. It has been touching to see the photos people have put up of him, and to read their comments.

  5. I was not familiar with Jennifer before the sudden loss of her husband and many baking his favorite recipe. What an amazing way for so many to connect, in a way, and support her. Wonderful story. My heart goes out to her. I was widowed at 45. Her comment about trying to live a new kind of normal, I understand well. I think what kept me going was that I was in culinary school at the time, following my dream and passion. One of the last things he said to me was no matter what, you finish school. I did. I look back many years now and marvel where my life has gone, how blessed I am to be married again to the most wonderful man! I wish Jennifer peace and healing. It takes time. Although I missed the Friday bake day, my father-in-law has talked often about a peanut butter pie. I may have to make it anyway, for him. Life is to short. We must make the most of each day! Thanks for a really thoughtful post Dianne.

    • Thanks for a thoughtful answer! You are the second widow to respond to this post and talk about her experience. Maybe it’s more common than we know, and most people are not willing to share it this way.

  6. Thank you so much for the recap of a pie for mikey.
    I lost my first husband when he was 34 and immediately knew I had to make a pie for Jennifer.
    So even though it meant altering the recipe a bit to fit my dietary needs, we had peanut butter pie and thought of just how transient and ephemeral life really is.

  7. We came home from vacation Saturday to this horrible tragedy. My husband was fortunate to survive his heart attack 6 months ago. He is a much older man then was Jennifer’s Mikey. I can only shake my head at the unfairness of this crazy thing called life.

  8. Hi Dianne,
    I, too, came across Jennifer’s article while I was on vacation with my family. I showed the post to my husband and that night, while on a much-needed date, we found ourselves in a restaurant that served peanut butter cream pie. We ordered it, and with a clink of our forks, toasted to Mikey.

    I’m so glad you wrote about this.
    Dini

  9. I too was out of town when I read Jennie’s tragic post. I couldn’t bake a peanut butter pie so I ordered a piece at Yoder’s in Sarasota, Fl and said my own silent toast to Mikey and prayers for Jennie and her girls. My grandmother was widowed at 29, pregnant with her fifth child at the time. My grandfather died on my Mother’s second birthday and this profoundly influenced her life. It is no surprise to me that the food blogging community rallied around at this time – we are a group that equates food and cooking with love. We are the nurturers, not competitors. The blogosphere is big enough for all of us, and so many wonderful friendships have been formed because of it. I am proud to be a part of this community; we care about each other, we share with each other, and we applaud the successes of each other and yes, we even grieve with each other.

  10. I was profoundly touched by jennifer’s post and the following movement in the foodblogging-sphere. I am one of germany’s foodbloggers with a tiny blog about the sweet side of life.
    I, myself have had a lot of trouble at the age of 31 with breast cancer (now I’m 34). I am blessed with a wonderful husband but after that, our life has changed. That’s why I had wet eyes reading the words: “Hug the one you love as if there’s no tomorrow.” Now I feel like I am a little guardian topeople and remind them what is important in life and how precious life is.
    I made peanutbutter-tartelettes last week because I’m totally influenced by the french pastry. All my thoughts and wishes go to these people having “dark days” now and hope that time can heal some parts of the wounds.
    With best wishes from germany,
    Sandy

    • Available in amber glass buy diflucan us bottles containing.

      Lovely to hear from you, Sandy. I hope your breast cancer is in permanent remission, and you can make all the tartelettes and sweets you want.

  11. I’ve been reading Jennifer’s blog for some time now and was shocked when I watched her video of her husband and child dancing. Only then did I figure out who all the tweets were about. I have my peanut butter pie in the fridge as I write… waiting to share it with my husband who works away. He’s due home tomorrow. We will sit down tomorrow night with our two kids, eat pie and be thankful for all that we have.

    • Yes, I had the same problem, not having met her. I finally had to ask someone what happened. How wonderful to create an occasion to be thankful. We all need to do that more often.

  12. Jennie’s post was quite moving and my heart aches for her. The support of the food blogging community was remarkable but not surprising. I have come to realize that humanity and compassion is thriving in this community. Non-foodie people will say that being obsessed with food isn’t healthy. I say being obsessed with food and the ability to use food as a vehicle to convey love, compassion and kindness is the healthiest kind of healthy.
    Jennie will find herself cloaked with love among a community of people who have food as the common denominator. Food is doing exactly what it does best. It forms a connection. I say, “Non-foodies, get behind me.”

  13. Food seems to be my anchor when things go wrong and when things are happy. Food seems to be the glue that unites us. For Foodies like us We could problably solve many World problems. If only they gave us a chance. We are all loving and supportive and this sure proved it. I do not know Jennifer, but I am sure this gave her comfort. Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Rita

    • Yes — what if we could feed people at war. Sometimes the reason men join armies is because they are hungry.

      I hope you’re right, Rita, that the support gave Jennifer comfort.

  14. A beautiful reminder of what a community has been created over the years …. And one full of love at that.

  15. I saw dozens of #apieformikey posts over the past few days, and I read each and every one of them. It was a touching tribute, but also, for me, fascinating to see how each author brings his/her own personality to the recipe; even though they were all writing about the same dish, the same set of ingredients, and the same wonderful father/husband/man, each post told a different story.

  16. I’ve read many of the Pie for Mikey posts, and it truly is amazing how many people have taken the time to make the pie, but most importantly, to reflect on the fragility of life, and how in moment it can all change so drastically.

    Another widow – I too lost my husband (46, I was 38) to a sudden heart attack 10 years ago. We still had cranky dial-up internet at the time, and no one twittered or facebooked. I have a sack of cards and letters that people sent, but Jennie will have something much, much, bigger in the form of all of the posts throughout the web. I think that will be comforting now and in the future. (and my husband would probably be shocked at how the internet has bloomed from nice to have for an hour or so a day, to constantly with you via smart phone 24 hrs a day).

    As much as social media allows you to keep in touch with your actual friends, it also builds a community of people you may not have met personally, but whom you have something in common, in our case, the love of food.

    • Tamara, so sorry to read about losing your husband. What’s interesting to me is that you have cards and letters from people who knew you or knew your husband. But with the Internet, people who had never met either of them participated in an “event” — making the pie and being part of a group.

      • Exactly, that’s what I found especially touching/amazing about the whole pie making “event”.

        Although I did get a weird angel statue from someone I never met, and as far as I could figure did not know my husband. That wasn’t comforting, it was creepy. :-)

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