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Pie transports me

When the package arrived in Saudi Arabia, it sent me home.

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In the winter of 1990 I was a young US Marine stationed in Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield. At a time before e-mail and the Internet, our lifeline to friends and family was the mail we sent and received. I can still remember the excitement and anticipation of assembling for evening mail call.

One evening the mail sergeant called my name and, instead of a letter, handed me a large box from my grandmother back in Oklahoma. One of the great hardships of the war for me was the absence of my grandmother's cooking – her skillet-fried chicken and okra, corn bread, and, most of all, her desserts. But on this evening I was about to take a gastronomic journey home: I opened the box to find two dozen of my grandmother's apricot fried pies.

A buddy from New York approached and asked me what I had received. I couldn't answer; my mouth was full of apricot pie. So I just offered him one.

"These are awesome!" he said. "What are they?"

He had to wait a few moments for an answer, but eventually I explained. As insurance, I offered him another pie to keep quiet. After all, my supply of this Southern staple was finite, and I was pretty sure none of the other marines had any fried pies there in camp.

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