01 January 2011

Why Pie?

I like pie.

At least, I think I like pie. I might just like the idea of pie.

Following Thanksgiving dinner last year, I was presented with the choice of four different pies. I chose all four and was satisfied, but not thrilled out of my mind.

The blueberry was good, but a bit gluey. The pecan was most everything I'd hoped for, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the flavor could be a bit more pecan-y. The pumpkin was standard November fare, all the better for having been homemade instead of frozen, but how would it be with fresh pumpkin in lieu of canned?

And the apple.  All-American Apple Pie. The favorite of red-blooded U-S-of-A’ers from Portland to, well, Portland. The spices were intriguing (a bit of clove, maybe?) and the fruit was juicy, but the bottom crust was damp and the filling didn’t quite hold together.

None of this stopped me from eating my pie with a smile on my face and, honestly, I enjoyed every last bite. A seed lodged itself in my brain, though. I had been so excited to walk in and see four pies of which to partake. I had built myself great expectations of pie to come that when it did, I was slightly deflated. That’s when I began to wonder: did I really like pie, or did I just like the idea of pie?

The logical next step in my crazy brain was to try as many pies as I could get my hands on. This quickly morphed into wanting to make various different pies, because I think that the best store-bought pies probably can’t hold a candle to a well-devised homemade creation.

So here we are: a rational approach to the question of pie. Do I like pie? Do I like all pie, or just particular ones? Do I have a favorite, really? I could list what I think are my “favorites” -- key lime, lemon meringue, cherry, pecan – but again, do I truly like them or do I like some ideal pie, an immaculate confection to which no human-prepared dessert could ever measure up?

Over the twelve months, I plan to bake up a broad range of pies, from basic vanilla cream to real mincemeat, boiled beef and all. Stop by at least every Saturday to see what’s come out of the oven in the past week and to see how long it takes me to get sick of pie. Or the idea of pie. Or something.


  1. You've inspired me, Zeb. I don't have any apples lying around, but I do have a can of pumpkin and some evaporated milk - pumpkin pie, here I come!

  2. I didn't see another place to send you a message so why not here? A favorite pie my mother used to make is "whole lemon custard pie." Use your choice of crust but a homemade (single) crust is best of course. For the filling, place 1 cup of sugar, one whole lemon, quartered and seeds removed (that's right, peel and everything else intact) and four eggs. Blend the living s*** out of it for a minute or two, then bake at 350 until the filling is set and browned on the top. It's great slightly warm. Sweet but tart as well (depending on the size of the lemon) with a bit of bitterness from the peel. I've made it with lime too, and it's just as good.