Sunday, 4 July 2010

Latvian revolutionaries and why I love pumpkin pie

This is not a non sequitur. I can blame some Latvian revolutionaries with my passion for pumpkin pie.
It all started in 1911 with the infamous “Siege of Sidney Street”. A gang of Latvian revolutionaries broke into a jewellery shop in the borough of Stepney in the E. End of London. It was a terrible event, with a number of police being killed and Sir Winston Churchill himself narrowly missing a bullet.
Living in Stepney at that time was a widow with her family of seven children, four boys and three girls. She decided it was no longer a safe place for her and the kids, so she upped sticks and emigrated to Canada. One of the older boys initially started to make a living by catching horses for the Canadian Army. This gave him a lifelong love for and friendship with the Whetung Ojibwa tribe. He went on to serve on the battlefields of France in the First World War. When he died, aged 101, he still fit his WWI uniform.
At about this time in a small village in Yorkshire, a lass was about to lose her eldest brother to the pull of Canada. They were close, so when, a year after he emigrated, she got a letter from Bill inviting her to join him, there was little hesitation and she too ended up in Ontario.
She entered the service of one Sam McLaughlin, the founder of General Motors and worked as scullery maid in his beautiful home. By this stage, the lad from the E. End had returned from the fields of battle in Europe and was making a living as a coal merchant. He delivered coal to the big house, and in the course of doing that, found himself a wife, my Great Aunt Mary.
Now Great Aunt Mary was a bit of a cook. She thrived on baking, so the fact that I do too must mean it’s in the genes. She made the most amazing pumpkin pie. I always felt it would be beyond me, as wherever I lived in the world you could either only buy tinned pumpkin or none at all.
Well now I live in a land of pumpkin abundance and I found a recipe for the beast, so I want to say thank you to the Latvian revolutionaries who prompted Mrs Sargant to get on a boat to go to Canada to teach her daughter in law how to make pumpkin pie so that her great- great niece could visit, get addicted and live to make a pumpkin pie of her own.


Maala said...

we must be related...


Leora said...

Oh, that's a nice story.

sparrow said...

Maala, it would be incredibly cool if we were. But I thought you whanau were Finnish, not Latvian? Or perhaps you are part Canadian?