What happened at Pie Life

1: There were a lot of pies! Actually, there were twelve pies, which seems to be a standard number. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say there were a lot of really awesome looking pies.
All these pies were awesome

2: One of the pies had a bacon lattice. I think nothing more needs to be said on that subject.
bacon lattice!

3: We heard a story about a not-very-smart waitress trying to bootstrap herself from celebrity-booty call to celebrity-girlfriend of the week through the power of pie. It was a pretty entertaining story. Part of me wanted to feel a little sorry for her, but I don’t love the celebrity in question, or the person she was trying to win him back from, so whatever.

4: Shauna James Ahern complimented my pie crust! She didn’t eat it, of course, but she said it looked wonderfully flaky.
You can tell it's good just by looking at it.

5: The Shaker Lemon Pie I brought was named Best Tasting! There were lots of categories, and the winners were all quite deserving (I may have gone back for seconds of the Over-All Awesomeness winner’s Salted Caramel Apple). I am pleased as punch, because I went home with the prize I wanted most, lard (and Kate’s book! and Edible Seattle!)
This pie was popular

Being easy ain’t easy

Tuesday, hello!

I know we’re having a bit of a resurgence of summer (is there a meteorological term for “Indian Summer?” because we don’t say that anymore, do we?), so you may be surprised to hear this: It’s fall! Best time for pie! Or at least, tied for first, with summer and spring and winter.

There’s never a bad time for pie, is there?

This morning, my attention was drawn to the article in NY Times Magazine, wherein Mark Bittman suggests that we shouldn’t bother making pie. Because he doesn’t like crust.

Pause with me for a moment, will you? There are plenty of foods of which I am not a fan, primarily red enchiladas and soggy bitter green bell peppers cooked into everything. And papaya. Actually, that may be the whole list. There is one food that I always forget that I don’t like until it’s already coming from the restaurant kitchen. (oh well)

But I’m not going to run out and tell you not to put peppers in your soup, or to stop feeding your family red enchiladas (seriously, though: green is the way to go). And that is the difference between me and Mark Bittman.

I think perhaps the most glaringly annoying part of this whole “don’t bother with pie” thing is how he suggests that making pie is just “baking fruit in a crust.”

Puh-leeeeze.

Sure, you can do that, but certainly he knows better than to imagine that that’s all there is to making pie? Why all the hate, Bittman?

On the other hand, many of the dishes he suggests as alternatives look to me like they’re calling out for a little structure and crunch, don’t you think? Clafoutis is a fine dish that can stand on its own, but those gratins? The poor things look like they’re naked. Also, cornstarch, sad.

I say DO bother with making pie. It has endured for a reason. Despite the cliche, there are plenty of easier ways to bring fruit to the dessert table, but few of them perform the same kind of alchemic magic that a really good crust and a really good fruit do. It’s worth doing.

Pie Is Everywhere!

Are you familiar with the “plate o’ shrimp” concept? It has been explained to me several times thusly: “In the movie Repo Man, someone points out that shrimp plates are everywhere, and you just don’t see them until something triggers you to, and then they’re everywhere!” (This is a paraphrase, of course.) I have to confess that I’ve never seen Repo Man, but a quick bit of lazy Googling leads me to believe that something has been lost in the retelling, but I still think the concept is really interesting.*

I have been having a major Shrimp Plate moment with pie this week, clearly in part because I’ve been thinking a lot about pie. Over the weekend an acquaintance was questioning how someone could claim to make great pie, but always use store-bought crust. That’s straight up nonsense. I would understand if the cheater-crust made an occasional appearance, but all the time? Shame on you, anonymous person, for making that claim! Later the same acquaintance shared a story about giving pie popsicles to Brent Spiner and Alan Frakes at Emerald City Comicon. Short version: Spiner asked whether it was poisoned, and then she told Frakes he was dressed like her dad. (I’m not good at stories. 🙁 Whatever. I swear it was funny.)

And then yesterday, I arrived to my day job drenched from the ridiculous March weather, and while seeking out some newspaper to help my bike-riding pants dry, found this week’s Seattle Weekly, with a huge and shiny cherry pie on the cover! Awesome! And terrifying, since this was the cover article. I was a little nervous to read it, honestly. I was worried about my competition, and nervous in general. I’ll let you read it yourself, but once I found a moment to do so, I felt a lot better. I felt bad for the companies profiled, and a little annoyed that he only profiled two of Seattle’s newer pie-specialists. I also really want to make a stop in Fremont. I think I need a pie-eating to do list.

*There’s an actual, established psychological concept at work here, but I’m frankly too lazy to figure out what it’s called just now.