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Culinary Archeology III: The Lemon Meringue Pie of Yvonne Pène Dubois

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One of the interesting American artists of the first half of the 20th Century who one hears about from time to time is Brooklyn-born Guy Pène du Bois (1884-1958). His best-known works were painted in the 1920s, and portray a cynical view of the high society of the time. Du Bois, besides being an artist in his own right, was a writer and art critic, and was instrumental in publicizing the Armory Show of 1913, the first major exposure in America to what has come to be known as "modern art." Du Bois wrote a monograph on his painter friend William Glackens, and was well known in the circles in which Glackens traveled. He was, in fact, a student of painter Robert Henri, who with Glackens and other artists known as "The Eight," banded together to resist the conservative styles of their day.


Guy Pène Du Bois: detail of photo from Archives of American Art.

Not too far from where I live, in Saratoga Springs, New York, there is a beautiful mural in the main post office, executed by du Bois during the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s and 1940s when the government contracted artists to paint over anything and everything that would give them a job. Interestingly, du Bois also painted a mural for the post office in Rye, New York, where I lived for a short time. While the public may view these two works during post office hours, there are from time to time more formal exhibitions of his work. One that I was able to catch was mounted by the Graham Gallery on Madison Avenue in Manhattan in 2004.  



The Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Post Office sports a mural by Guy Pène du Bois.

Du Bois must have been captivated by the beauty of William Glackens's daughter-in-law, Anne (Nancy) Henshaw Middlebrook Glackens, because he painted her portrait, which is now part of the collection of the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale.



The Glackenses and the du Boises were friends, and the families would from time to time gather at Labrador Farm in New Hampshire, the country seat of William and Edith Glackens, and later, of their son and daughter-in-law, Ira and Nancy.



Labrador Farm, the Glackenses' country home in New Hampshire.

Guy had a beautiful and talented daughter, Yvonne (1913-1997), who followed in her father's footsteps and became an artist. As the Glackenses were collecting recipes from friends, they must have asked her to make a contribution, which she did, leaving in the Labrador Farm Cookbook a handwritten account of a recipe for lemon meringue pie, which is the one we shall explore today.


Yvonne Pène duBois, Conway, New Hampshire, 1939.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Crust = 7 graham crackers - crushed
2 tablespoons of butter
cover the bottom of a pie pan with this mixture
smoothing it over with the back of a spoon

filling = The yokes of four eggs
2 cans of condensed milk
4 lemons

Grate the rind of two lemons and put it to one side -
then beat the eggs, condensed milk and lemon juice together until smooth and pour into the pie plate. Sprinkle the rind on the top.

Meringue = beat the four egg whites until stiff
add one half cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Beat this mixture until smooth and cover the top of the pie -
bake it in a 375 degree oven for about ten minutes - or until meringue is brown

Serve cold.
                                            Yvonne Pène du Bois

I'll admit that I did not carry out Yvonne's instructions slavishly. For example, I could not imagine that the pie filling would be cooked in ten minutes! Examining other recipes of a similar nature, I found that the recommended time in the oven was 30 minutes, at least for the Key Lime pie recipe on the container of condensed milk.

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www.petersnewyork.com

Born in New York, March 14, 1949. Staff writer for the New York City Tribune, Economic Growth Report, Register-Star. Presently publish on the websites "Peter's New York," 911blogger, and OpEd News. Mr. Duveen heads up a project known as "The Museum (more...)
 

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Culinary Archeology III: The Lemon Meringue Pie of Yvonne Pène Dubois

Culinary Archeology I

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My grandmother made lemon meringue pie -- since my... by Lynn Hirshman on Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 11:21:27 AM
Here's my tip: if you melt the butter in the p... by Meryl Ann Butler on Friday, Mar 27, 2009 at 2:59:29 PM
A friend has done some research on the droplets on... by Peter Duveen on Saturday, Mar 28, 2009 at 8:52:36 PM