Today is March 14…aka 3/14. Geeks, nerds, dorks, neo maxi zoom dweebies, & other assorted inhabitants of The Island of Misfit Toys happily embrace it as National Pi Day in honor of the mathematical definition of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to the diameter, which is approximately equal to 3.14 (and then a bunch of numbers afterward that don’t really matter). Let me assure you that I don’t really understand what I just wrote. Math was never my thing. I’m more of a right-brain kind of guy. However, National Pi Day seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about pi…uhhh…I mean pie. Because in The Manoverse dessert is a much more beloved topic than mathematics.
A physician would likely tell me that I’d be better off writing about (and eating) fruits & veggies rather than sweets, which have always been my kryptonite. My weight loss efforts are rarely torpedoed by chips or other assorted salty snacks. I have proven myself capable of giving up pop (or soda for those of you outside of Appalachia, Dixie, & The Bible Belt). Even fast food is more of a lazy convenience than a true addiction. However, put any kind of cookie, cake, ice cream novelty, pudding, or candy in my general vicinity and I crumble like a Kennedy at an open bar. So in honor of 3/14, aka National Pi Day, your humble Potentate of Profundity ravenously presents…..
from the home office somewhere off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea…..
My Superfluous 7 Favorite Pies:
7 Key Lime
I have never been to Florida, but someday when I do finally make it there I hope to pass thru Key West and eat some genuine key lime pie. Until then I suppose I will just have to settle for what passes as key lime pie elsewhere. I am told that true key limes are more tart & fragrant than what most of us find on the shelves at the local supermarket. At any rate, I am a huge fan of cheesecake but decided not to include it here because it is neither pie nor cake…it is its own special thing. However, key lime pie uses a very similar custard base and is just plain yummy. I could do without the usual meringue topping, but that’s a small nit to pick. Oddly enough I do not like lemon meringue pie (though my father loves it).
What is the difference between pie & cobbler?? What about bettys, crisps, & grunts?? Heck, I don’t know…and I don’t really care!! If anyone feels differently and is offended by me including blackberry cobbler here then I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. There is an annual Blackberry Festival just down the road from here that is always one of the highlights of summer, and the blackberry cobbler there…topped with your choice of vanilla or blackberry ice cream…is sinfully awesome.
What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie?? It’s as essential to the tradition as turkey, stuffing, & the Macy’s Parade. The pies one purchases in stores or at restaurants are decent and what probably 90% of America consumes, but if you have someone in your family that bakes the pie themselves…even if they are using canned pumpkin (they probably are)…then that is a special treat indeed. Personally I like to slather my slice with a heaping spoonful (or two) of whipped cream, but if you don’t have any of that on hand it’s all good…the pie will be just dandy on its own merits.
Is it pe-khan pie (beloved by Trekkies everywhere), or is it pee-can pie?? Who knows?? This is the only pie on the list that I have actually dared to make, and it was darn tasty if I do say so myself!! The secret to pecan pie is the gooey “sauce” made with brown sugar, corn syrup (or molasses), eggs, butter, & vanilla. Otherwise you’d just have nuts in a crust, which sounds kind of prosaic. It’s a wee bit on the sweet side, but well worth the sugar stupor. I prefer to eat my pecan pie warm with a tall, ice cold glass of milk.
This is America, right?? There is no way that I could leave apple pie off the list. I am not sure how it became a symbol of patriotism and liberty, but that is exactly what it has become. I prefer my apple pie warm and a-la-mode, which is a fancy French way of saying “with a big ol’ scoop (or two) of vanilla ice cream on top”. I am not particular about a decorative lattice top, and it really seems like a lot of work for something a person is just going to devour anyway. Actually I am just fine with a crumb topping. One has to be careful with the cinnamon & nutmeg, flavors that should be present but not overwhelming. My grandmother used to occasionally make something called an applesauce pie, which is exactly what it sounds like. I wasn’t a big fan. I need some texture and crunch.
2 Peanut Butter
Out of all of these pies it seems like peanut butter pie is the hardest to find. It is rarely on any restaurant dessert menu. It doesn’t seem to be easily available in any grocery store. No one ever brings one to the family reunion or covered dish at church. But when it is available I do not hesitate to jump all over the opportunity. Maybe the scarcity is what makes peanut butter pie so good?? Interesting query to ponder, eh??
My grandmother…the same one that used to make the dubious applesauce pie…used to come to our house every Thanksgiving with my single favorite food item of the day in tow…a homemade chocolate cream pie. She made her own crust too, which elevated the whole experience off the chain (I think that’s what the kids say nowadays). I have had many chocolate pies since, but nothing will ever compare to that. There are two key elements of a great chocolate pie. First of all the chocolate filling has to be right. I’ve had chocolate pies that were too chocolaty. If the color of the filling is too dark…almost black…then the flavor balance will be off. Oh…I’ll still eat it…but I won’t enjoy it quite as much. And there must be whipped cream on top. This is going to sound trivial, but unlike pumpkin pie, onto which a spoonful of whipped topping is added to an individual slice of pie after it has been cut, whipped topping should be considered as an ingredient of the chocolate pie and spread on top of the entire thing before it is ever presented for public consumption. And then if you really want to take things to the next level add some chocolate shavings on top of the whipped cream. That, ladies & gentlemen, is Heaven on a plate.