Jan 5, 2010

National Pie Day: January 23

Did you know about an organization called the American Pie Council? I learned of them this morning upon receiving their press release about the upcoming National Pie Day (I’d never heard of National Pie Day, either). But I’m a sucker for a home-made berry pie---the best ones I've ever had have been at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadero, California---so I ambled over to the Pie Council's website and took a look around.

 According to the website, the American Pie Council (APC) is “the only organization dedicated to preserving America’s pie heritage and promoting America’s love affair with pies.” The APC sponsors many national pie-related events, including the Great American Pie Festival, the National Pie Championships, and, of course, National Pie Day.

The APC’s message for this year’s National Pie Day is rather compelling:
"As the nation steers through a series of challenges, the American Pie Council (APC) recognizes that we still have much to be grateful for and many to say thank you to: men and women who defend our nation, friends and neighbors who volunteer time to worthy causes, and family members who are always there for us.  So to help say 'thank you' the best way they know how, the APC and its associate members have decided to highlight National Pie Day (January 23rd) by helping people across the nation recall the simple pleasure of presenting a pie as a gesture of kindness."
To help you do just that, APC commercial members have posted award-winning recipes on the site (one that appeals to me is called “Ginger, You’re a Peach Pie”). In addition, some retailers throughout the country are offering discounts (download a PDF listing participating retailers). So you can either bake a fabulous pie or get a discount for a store-bought pie, and then go gift someone who deserves such delicious bounty.

A few interesting facts I picked up on the site:
  • Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians.
  • The early pies were predominately meat pies. Pyes (pies) originally appeared in England as early as the twelfth century. The crust of the pie was referred to as "coffyn". There was actually more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) were probably first made in the 1500s. English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.
  • If you lined up the number of pies sold at U. S. grocery stores in one year, they would circle the globe—and then some.
  • Nearly one out of five Americans (19%) prefer Apple pie, followed by pumpkin (13%), pecan (12%), banana cream (10%) and cherry (9%). 
 The Culinary Gadabout Suggests:
Want to bake your own pies? This book is all you need...

From the Amazon review: At 640 pages and nearly two inches thick, Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie, the big book with the shortest possible title, is difficult to read in bed. It's hard to hold up. It weighs on the stomach. But bed is where you will want to take it, night after night, following author Richard Haedrich's lead through fruit pies, berry pies, nut pies, custard pies, turnovers, ice cream pies, and more. Headrich has the most reassuring voice in food literature, and his lifelong passion--the making and baking of all manner of pies--soon begins to fit the reader like new skin.

The first 60 pages are given over to general directions (for example, Haedrich is a firm believer in reading a recipe through to completion before lifting a finger; he rolls his dough on wax paper) and the making and shaping of crust. You will find everything you need to know about creating terrific pie crusts including a friendly pat on the back and the sage advice that great crust comes with experience. This is all but permission to bake several pies a week for the rest of your life. The 300 some recipes in Pie will help you on your way. There are 21 crust recipes alone, everything from that perfect flaky crust to Choco-Nut Press-In Pie Crust.

Books like Pie don't happen overnight, or even over a year of nights. Haedrich didn't apply his considerable food writing skill to a subject he simply pulled off the shelf. While the tone may be easy going, there's nothing casual here about either the task or the accomplishment. Pie represents a considerable chunk of one man's life wedged between the covers of a book. The tens of thousands of bits and pieces of valuable information, quotes, lines of poetry, not to mention the recipes and careful instruction comes from years and years of both accumulation and winnowing down to the very best.

Buy Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie

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