The Big Piece

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I met Michel in the foothills of the Alps after an afternoon paragliding. Somehow we got into a conversation about my search for the evidently unique Radio Shack device that turns a cigarette lighter into a normal outlet, which was stolen from my van in Prague. He offered to help me look for it, so we drove from Wassen to Zurich and checked a couple of stores, be still had no luck. All was not lost.


Michel’s roommate was away for the weekend, so he offered me a place to stay and recharge my gear. Later that evening, when his Swiss-Hungarian, equally hospitable girlfriend Myriam came home, the three of us cooked a gourmet dinner together. Besides being vegetarian to fit my new diet, it was a kind they cook almost every night in their posh downtown Zurich apartment. Michel is a designer and an Apple user, Myriam a psychiatric nurse and forensics student. We ate well, talked about Switzerland and paragliding and the next afternoon, after cooking a giant brunch, we ate well again.

I ended up staying in Zurich for a few days as the weather was no good for flying. On the last evening before departing back to Wassen, we made one more gourmet meatless meal. For desert Michel baked an apricot pie, the kind his grandmother always made. He told me you can make them with canned apricots, but since Apricots are in season now, it’s really the best time for the pie, which was delicious. Although stuffed, we ate almost all of it.

Late that night, when my clothes were done drying and my laptop was fully charged, I packed up to head back to Wassen. On my way out the door, Myriam insisted I take a piece of apricot pie with me, so I could eat it tomorrow and think about my new friends. Michel agreed and rushed over to the counter where the last two square pieces sat on the baking pan. With the slivers of apricot on top they looked more like slices of pizza. One piece sat on top of a spatula ready to be served into the small plastic bag Michel held in his hand.

As he lifted the piece up off the pan I watched him, anxious and thankful for one more taste of the good pie. Before dropping the piece into the bag, he stopped short and brought it back to the pan. Upon realizing the other was a bit larger, he traded my small piece of his favorite pie for the bigger piece, wrapped it up then handed it over with a smile and farewell.

The next day, while dangling my feet out the side of my van and watching paragliders spiral in the clear blue overhead, I enjoyed the sweet fruit and flakey crust and I thought about how something like the big piece of apricot pie can represent a whole person and make a whole country worth traveling.

6 Thoughts on “The Big Piece”

  1. Mom Says:

    John – couldn’t resist commenting on this one. I knew I liked Michel when meeting him on webcam. Now after reading this post, I love him. How great for you to experience such hospitality, kindness & generosity. With all the craziness in the world, we all needed this.
    Love, Mom

  2. kevin Says:

    your stories keep getting better and better. i hope you get a camera soon.

  3. Suzy Says:

    Your making me want to visit this country more and more…

  4. katie Says:

    This post makes me really really happy. I could say so many things about the importance of this, but since you posted it the way that you did…you already know. Make sure to pass the big piece of metaphorical pie on to someone else, and we’ll see the world become a much better place.

  5. UT Says:

    Try some fly fishing in the mountain rivers and streams.

  6. Aunt Zeth Says:

    Your UT is right, “Guys like pie.” I’ll have to make a pie soon to share. Be Safe and Happy. Love, Aunt Zeth

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