The other evening I discovered our house to be in a dessert-free state. While poking around in the fridge I discovered a couple of frozen pie shells, bought with some thought toward making a quick quiche, or a pot pie from leftovers. And on a shelf underneath the freezer was a bag of apples from the fall crop. So I discovered that one can peel, core and slice 10 apples in front of the TV during a single NCIS re-run, and end up with hot apple pie well before bedtime. Bliss. And doing the math–two people, eight slices–problem solved for the next three days, too.
Apple pie just never gets old. While I was waxing rhapsodic over this modest culinary accomplishment at work, Ellen Rocco asked, “What is it with guys and pies?” While I have been known to opine that “even so-so pie is better than no pie,” I had never considered it as a gender thing before. Maybe it’s not–Ellen did grow up within a pie-challenged food culture. But it could actually be a guy thing, and being a guy myself, I naturally lack insight into what guy things are.
In my case, pie gives me a feeling of being taken care of–if it’s served to me by someone else, or a feeling of taking care of myself–if I participate in the making. I grew up in a two-parent, two-outside-job home. Dinner was whatever could be whomped up between 5:30 and 6:30, before us kids began to chew on each other. So homemade pie was an infrequent weekend and holiday treat. Diner pie was another option–one I never passed up when I had a chance–but that’s a whole different conversation.
I consulted my wife, Terry, our household’s resident expert on which things are guy things, but she was no help in this. She shares most of my pie opinions with a few exceptions. Apple is best for me–everything else is distant second. She thinks pumpkin pie pushes the pie button just as well as apple. But cream and custard pies lag far behind for both of us; they lack the substance and gravitas to produce that true pie repletion experience. I know I have had pie when I emit something between a groan and a sigh when I put down the fork. If it’s possible to eat a second piece, the first piece didn’t do a proper job.
It being the season for both rhubarb and strawberries, take a look at this NPR Kitchen Window recipe for strawberry-rhubarb hand pies. Single serving pies–what could be a more welcome addition to the lunch pail? An apple version, maybe.
Feel free to wax rhapsodic on a memorable experience with pie (or other allegedly guy things) in a comment below.