Listening Post: Concerning pie

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.

That's what I'm talkin' about!

That’s what I’m talkin’ about!

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.

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9 Comments on “Listening Post: Concerning pie”

  1. Mark Holland says:

    Dale, though I share your love of apple pie as the penultimate dessert (and let us not digress into WHICH apples make the best pie,) having lived in the South for some three decades I need to weigh in with fresh Peach, Lemon Chess, Coconut Cream and Pecan pie as some things I never understood while living in New York. But these kind of choices are definitely “problems of the 1%” (those who had pie today vs those who did not.)

  2. Alan says:

    Pear ginger pie. Pear gooseberry pie. Lard crust mandatory. Coconut cream pie at the Fairgrounds Inn with a dense approach to the cream that left an impression of brie was pretty damn fine, too.

  3. Mark, Saranac Lake says:

    Gender thing?…hmmm, never thought of it that way when it comes to pie. My family enjoyed my mom’s pies as the first choice for desert, especially my dad and me – well, there’s the gender thing, but only thinly – my mom loved pie, so do my sisters.

    I make my own pies, first choice is, hands down, apple but blueberry, rhubarb, cherry, raspberry (especially black raspberry) strawberry, pumpkin, peach and even pecan are a not that distant second…but it was apple that was my “birthday desert” choice when I was growing up. I learned how to make pie from my mom – she was very proud of her crust. I get compliments on it whenever I bring it to a gathering…and I’m quick to give her the credit. It made an exceptional impression with my significant other’s mom when I showed up at Christmas dinner a couple of years ago with one of my home-made apple pies in the pie box. I could do no wrong after that.

    A neighbor had a pie party a few years ago. I started picking the blueberries in my side yard at 2 PM, got the pie made and in the oven at around 3, out of the oven and into the pie box a little before 4 and then walked over to the neighbor’s with it. I claimed THE freshest pie there with the berries having been on the bush only 2 hours earlier.

    Gender thing?…so far, this post has only had guys talkin’ about pie.

  4. Dee says:

    I am not a guy, but have always loved pie – especially with any good fresh fruit. But alas, few on the east coast seem to understand this most wonderful dish. I was raised in Minnesota and pie was a staple in my mother and mother-in-law’s kitchens. The crust was critical and a challenge that they perfected. But even in later years my mother-in-law turned to store bought crusts. Crusts are important, but it is the filling that makes you drool. And where is the mince pie? Does anyone still make it?

  5. Belle says:

    First time in a long time I’ve had time to read – let alone respond to – a post, and it’s about PIE!…and MEN liking pie! Let me tell you, Mr. Hubby would live on fruit pies if he could: Rhubarb, raspberry, lemon, blueberry, etc. Me, I’m a salty girl, and love savory pies (think crawfish, tomato, veggie. YUM)

    The kicker — Mr. Hubby knows when a crust isn’t one I’ve made, even when I manipulate a store-bought one to LOOK home made. Not that I TRY to fool him, but he asks; I tell.

  6. Joseph S says:

    Wikipedia (without a source) claims E.B. White wrote:
    To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
    To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
    To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
    To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
    To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
    And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

    A Mainer 10 years ago (before wikipedia) recited this to me inserting Maine for Vermont.
    I admit, I’ve been a DamnYankee many times by the final definition!

  7. Andy Caruso says:

    Download a pie tody from A song by Dan Bergren.

  8. John Doty says:

    Ahhh Pie – I agree that fruit pies are the best, I like pecan and will eat pumpkin but fruit is the preferred choice, slightly warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. One of my daughters has an apple pie every year for her birthday instead of cake, this has been the tradition since she was 6.

    A friend told me once that breakfast was what you had when you couldn’t have pie.

  9. Dale Hobson says:

    Nice to hear from so many pie lovers, and pie makers.

    Joseph S.–I almost used the E.B. White quote in the post. I was reciting it just the other day.

    Andy Caruso–you may not be able to download an apple pie yet, but NASA is at work on printing a pizza-shaped slab of something food-like from a 3-D printer.

    Dee–we used to get something dreadful in our school lunches back in the early ’60s that they said was mince pie. IMHO, the only proper nutritional use of suet is at the bird feeder.

    John Doty–your daughter is wise beyond her years.

    Belle–Hubby can make his own darn crust. He doesn’t know when he’s got it good.

    Mark K.–You can stop by the station with your pie box anytime.

    Allan–Pear-ginger? Save me a slice.

    Mark H.–The best pie apples are the hot ones in the fresh pie in front of you. Peach pie is right up there near apple in my book, you just can’t make one more than once a year up in the dread northlands. Good fresh peach season is about three days long up here. The rest of the time they have the texture of apples, with the flavor of boiled tofu.

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