In my high school speech class, I once got a perfect score for giving an extemporaneous speech about my favorite food. I chose the crispy, spicy pizza puff as my subject matter and I proceeded to impress my teacher with my eloquent vocal stylings. (Whether the class was equally impressed is still up the in air.) I don’t remember much of what I actually said, except that for something about a “taste explosion” on my tongue.
I bring this up because today is National Pie Day (not to be confused with National Pi Day, which presumably is celebrated on March 14th) and I feel a burning desire to extemporaneously express my love for all things pie (I also think pi is fine, but don’t expect me to get all lovey-dovey about it). With all of the discussion of baked goods in my last post, I some how neglected to mention how much I love pie. In my lowly opinion, pie is probably the greatest dessert known to man.
For Christmas this year, my wife was seriously considering getting me a membership in a Pie of the Month Club. Unfortunately, it was going to be considerably less expensive to just drive over to the pie shop and buy a pie every month. I once went to a wedding where the newlyweds thoughtfully set out about 50 or so pies for their guests instead of ca more traditional wedding cake and I immediately declared it the best wedding I had ever or will ever attend. The woman who works the counter at the local pie shop already recognizes my face even though I have only been in the store twice (sure it was in the span of about 5 days, but who’s counting?) My soul was crushed about 6 months ago, when I found out that a promising new pie restaurant in the area had closed, which I only discovered when I was zipping by to try to pick up dinner before an overnight shift at the hospital. My love for pie is not limited to dessert pies, for I am also a big fan of chicken pot pie. I am serious about pie.
But what is it about pie that draws me so? What makes it so much better than cake or cookies or ice cream? For me, it starts with the reliable goodness of pie. My enjoyment of cake is highly reliant on what flavor the cake is and what kind of frosting is on it. If it is chocolate cake or whipped frosting, then I’ll more than likely pass. With a wide variety of cookie consistencies, it can be easy to get a bad batch or two. With its wide variety of excellent flavors and textures, ice cream comes the closest to approaching pie (plus it makes an excellent partner with pie!) but there are some occasions when ice cream can be a bit too icy or rich or sugary for me and after I am finished I will be a little glad inside that the experience is over. But pie, that old standby, even when made substandardly, is still mighty tasty and has me looking for more.
The other thing that draws me to pie is the mixture of textures and flavors. With the others, the predominant taste is invariably sweet, sugary goodness. Which is great and all, but I also like variety and that is where pie delivers. There is the smooth, buttery flavor of the crust, the sugary explosion of the filling, but typically this is counterbalanced by some tartness of whatever fruit happens to be gracing the pie with its presence. Plus, if you happen to be so lucky as to have a Dutch-crusted pie, then your senses are given an extra experience of both crunch and sugar and you want to savor your slice of heaven for as long as you possibly can.
In the end, you can never really go wrong with dessert. But for me, pie takes the cake. (I wonder what my speech teacher would think about this performance?)