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My TV Dinner

Every Friday The Social's digital correspondent, Jessica Allen, answers two questions we face every day. What should I eat? And what should I watch? The answer for one is frequently found in the other.

Making a key lime pie prompts memories of Bloodline and Florida

Simon asks Jessica to make Robert Rauschenberg's key lime pie. It turns out looking like a Rauschenberg painting.

I recently received a text suggesting that I make a key lime pie. Not just any key lime pie: it had to be famed American artist Robert Rauschenberg’s.

Simon had remembered reading a story about Rauschenberg, who is best known for colossal canvases collaged with everything from paint and metal to feathers and stuffed goats, saying “Bob,” as we were apparently calling him now, kept a stack of cards in his Florida home with the recipe printed on it. That’s how popular it was.

You can Google it, like I did, to find the five-ingredient sweet pie, which, if I’m being honest, are the same five ingredients in pretty much every other: a can of sweetened condensed milk, three egg yolks, and lime juice put into a crust and topped with whipped cream.

The difference with Rauschenberg’s, however, is that he used a store-bought shell — “plain, graham cracker or chocolate” — and it requires no baking!

On Sunday I set out to work in the kitchen where I often stream TV shows that Simon has no interest in watching with me.

That includes Bloodline, the Netflix dramatic thriller set in the Florida Keys about the upstanding Rayburn family and the lies they tell to protect their good name. We’d gone through the first season together, but he wouldn’t commit to the second, which premiered on May 27.

I’m not sure why.

He certainly had his eyes open for Sam Shepard, who plays the patriarch of the Rayburn family, when we drove through the Keys last November, particularly when we settled for a couple of nights in Islamorada where much of Bloodline is filmed.

At the Palms and Pines resort our bartender, who doubled as the charter boat captain and looked like Bradley Cooper, told us how one of the actors from the series had recently stayed with his family here.

Also, his wife loves Kyle Chandler, to which I nodded politely while thinking, “Get in line, buddy.”

Every place we visited on our road trip had a Bloodline-related story: “They were just here last night” or “Kyle’s regular hang-out is just up the street.” And at every restaurant and diner, we ordered a slice of key lime pie.

But none compared to the first slice we sampled in Key Largo at a roadside place called Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, whose motto is “Eat well, laugh often, live long.”

Every slice thereafter caused us to flashback to Mrs. Mac’s, not unlike Bloodline toys with chronology so that the first scene in Season One is also one of the last.

The timeline jumping continues in the second season — so much so that I had to pause the show (and the key lime pie construction) in order to read some episode recaps — a eureka moment in and of itself: So this is why recaps exist, I thought.

Maybe the multitasking is why the pie, despite whipping it over a double boiler for at least 30 minutes, never turned into the custard that “Bob” promised it would. It remained a pile of goop, even after I stuck the pie in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Still, I didn’t look back. I told no lies; this is the key lime pie we have to live with, I thought, as I prepared two “slices” after dinner.

“Well, maybe it’s fitting that Bob’s key lime pie looks like a Rauschenberg painting on a plate,” Simon said, staring down at the mess that bore a resemblance in colour palette only to the slices we enjoyed on that glorious trip to the Keys, where the sun never stopped shining and the sea was a thousand shades of blue.

But let me tell you: no finer-tasting key lime pie has ever existed.

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