As American As Apple Pie
A woman writes a recipe because that is all she can write. Crisco, cold water, flour, five apples,
cinnamon and sugar. She dips her young hands into the bowl and feels the comfort of the flour.
Yes, the kitchen is her refuge, a promised land of creation and new ideas, free from judgment.
But she wants to write more than a simple apple pie recipe.
She dreams of sitting in a large publishing house with bookshelves so big that they crack the
She wants to tell her story, of how she left small town Arkansas to escape an abusive husband to
find love in Los Angeles.
She wants to describe picking cotton for four cents an hour in Bakersfield, California.
She wants to recount how motorcyclists zoom into the public park and shoot at her six children,
who all make it home.
She wants to talk of living with a family of 8 on 900 square feet of property.
She wants to be much more than a mother and wife.
She craves the freedom to be treated as an equal.
Her granddaughter learns this recipe, and finds that she too, takes comfort in the warmth of
cinnamon, sugar, and dough. She makes it for friends on Friday nights. She brings it to the
homeless on Thanksgiving. She prepares it for her father on an ordinary day to remind him of his
All of her family ancestry is neatly tucked away in the memory of flour, five apples, cinnamon,
and sugar. I am the granddaughter, and she lives in me.
Maya Richard-Craven is an American journalist and poet, who has opened for California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia (2013), and has spoken before the USC Board of Trustees (2015). Her work has appeared in New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, USA TODAY College, and The Hollywood Reporter. In 2014, Richard-Craven was named best college columnist by The National Society of Newspaper Columnists.