Apr 10 • 6M

Hindsight, Pies, etc

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Taali Talk (literally) is the audio version of Taali's popular weekly newsletter. Musings every Sunday from an NYC expat living, baking and singing in Amsterdam. Bonuses include quotes from my grandmothers, feminist theory and cheeky Jewish neuroses.
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Hi, my darling.

Another Sunday, somehow. Sunny (ish) here in Amsterdam. I’ve been up since 8 am making a pie for a woman named Zira, who lives in a lovely apartment in Amsterdam.

Thanks to queen Iris, a ttalk subscriber turned frond of whom you’ve read before, I learned that said apartment is available for my parents and younger brother to stay in next week. Today I am going to pick up the Hamsterdamian keys before my family’s arrival.

I could just, you know, say thank you to Zira, like a normal person. But where’s the fun in that?! So I’m currently in the process of finishing up a chocolate silk.

It is going well. In case you were wondering, it is also the third pie I’ve made this week.

The first of those three pies was a lemon chess for my lyric students, because I am legitimately concerned about the level of stress they are taking on in this chaos COVID time.

It’s rough, my love. Every single one of my students is either on the verge of or in active burnout. I wish I could get the truth through to them: That everything in school matters and nothing matters. That they have so, so much time, but they still need to be conservative with it, because most of what they’re learning doesn’t actually apply outside the conservatory’s walls.

Most importantly, that if their health is gone, they can’t make any actual music.


The big thing I keep seeing is that they are learning to learn, and are completely forgetting about music, let alone how to take care of their body or soul. This makes sense, I suppose. After all, how can a university charge for four years if they just say the truth?

The truth is: You should make as much music as possible, and use this space as a safe place to do so.

(That, by the way, for all its chaos flaws is what the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music said)
(It required you to take matters into your own hands, but if you did so the sky was the limit)
(The level was so high)
(The tolerance for bullshit was so low)
(And I am who I am because of it)

Hindsight, pies, etc.

In any event, the CvA is the CvA. I’ve been pushed, aggressively, to give more assignments rather than go about teaching the way I’d go about it.

(More homework. Who fracking cares about homework?!)

I’ve pushed back to the best of my ability and stayed with the truth: If students want to write songs they should


That if they want to sing, they should sing. Put together a band and do it. Once they leave school, if they’re lucky, they will simply keep doing this, for the rest of their life. So they’d better get good at it now!

But this doesn’t seem to be getting through, to the school or to the students. The students are still frightened and panicked and the anxiety of COVID is not helping them.

So I decided they needed pie more than anything else this week. A lemon chess for my Tuesday lyric bobis.

The pie was delicious and our class went much better. I like myself a year and a half into this artist residency … I’m putting the students first. For the first time I just moved everyone to the piano.

(Fuck a powerpoint: Songwriting should be taught the way it’s done.)

A triumph!

Word got around, because despite being the second largest conservatory in the world (!) the Conservatorium van Amsterdam has a solid gossip network. As such, of course I couldn’t not bring some for my Thursday songwriting bobis. So the Thursday bobis got sour cherry.

And now I’m on pie three. The exciting news is that I think I have finally perfected Petee’s whipped cream. In the past I skimped on powdered sugar because I generally find whipped cream to be sickeningly sweet. This lack of powdered sugar makes the whipped cream taste good, but messes with the structure: When it comes to decorating, it is a gloopy unpipe-able mess.

I should have known better. Obviously a class act like Petee would never make her vanilla sea salt whipped cream recipe too sweet.

So today I am trusting her and the universe. Letting the chocolate cream set in the fridge for another twenty minutes, then we’ll get to piping.

And live typing to you in the process!

(Did you know that I type 160 words per minute?)
(It’s one of my more ridiculous skills and why I can finish these t-talks so quickly)
(Also allowed me to be a sensational executive assistant, which paid my rent through my 20s before this whole music thing was a viable option)
(Thank Michael, my dad, for giving 8 year old me Mavis Beacon like a real G)

Yep. Mavis Beaconing-away as the custard sets.

A chocolate silk, as much for myself as for Zira.

My older brother Jonathan noticed this recently - pie making allows me to exit reality in a healthy and controlled way that works really well for me.

And today I am like the students, in dire need of an escape.

Yes, despite my ebullience at the masters being finished last week, it seems we may have to push the album’s actual release date from September 2022 to January 2023 in order for it to be properly supported. We could be wrong about this, in which case a May 12th announce + September 9th release will still stand.

But right now it’s not up to me. The music business is experiencing the same stress the students are. COVID has warped and spit each of us out, and anything afterwards is taking as long as it takes. We will find the right team, at exactly the moment we are supposed to.

I know this. I do! I try my best and when I falter I check in with best frond / new mother Becca Stevens (an angel person) who helps assuage while her little freshly born daughter naps (an angel! person!).

Most of all, I know that after the three (!) years it took to create this album, there is no rush.

(Yknow, the same advice I’m aggressively telling my students)
(Maybe I should take it?)

So I make pie. I exit reality in a safe, controlled way.

And you know what I learned while I exited reality today? Petee was right. The vanilla sea salt whipped cream needed all 40 grams of confectioners sugar.

Every bake I get better.

And in the meanwhile, the album will come when it comes. I’m not doing tomorrow’s work today, am allowing myself, at least at this second, to just be grateful and present with you. So the real question is: Should I put chocolate shavings on this magnificence? 😆

I welcome your thoughts on pie and all other things in the comments (pls comment instead of emailing back to me it’s much easier for me to keep track of comments!).

And I love you. Thanks for holding me and being understanding, if it comes to it, about the right release date. It’ll be worth it. Promise. And there will be lots of pie to celebrate.

More next week.


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