As with any food that has a prized, cult-like place in our culture, pie matters to people. Almost everyone has a folkloric pie experience committed to memory: a grandmother's delicate, flaky crust or a cascade of warm, melting filling topped with whipped cream from a favorite restaurant. It doesn't matter what town or strata of society you're from, -they have pie there. Pie goes with most of our major holidays and it's recently become a trendy replacement for wedding cake.
Everyone has something to say about pie, whether it be Ralph Waldo Emerson's incredulous response when asked why New Englanders eat pie for breakfast: "What else is pie for?" or Carl Sagen's cerebral musings: "To make an apple pie from scratch you must first invent the universe."
I'd like to suggest that the particular resonance of pie in our culture makes it a special social currency. We have lots of ways to communicate with each other these days and while it's never been easier or more instant, technology often falls short when it comes to matters of the heart. We all know that texts and emails just don't convey the tone of a human conversation (which is why emojis were invented) but pie is never vague. Every layer of melty goodness says "I love you" loud and clear.
A text with thoughtful words is wonderful, but pie is pie, enough said!
Making someone a pie is a dual expression of love; it says, "I love you enough to get out all my ridiculous baking accouterments and trash my kitchen," and "I love you so much I want your day to be filled with the surpassing deliciousness that only pie can provide." This is not a casual statement. In high school I knew a girl who landed a boyfriend by baking him a pie -she could not have communicated her intentions more clearly (and unsurprisingly, they got married.) That's the power of pie, folks.
A homemade pie is so laden with personal investment and emotion that it only seems right to share it with people you care about, like in this chilling haiku by food writer Caroline Lange:
a nightmare: my least
favorite people eat a pie
i'd not meant for them.
(Although, maybe enjoying a pie might make one's least favorite people more agreeable?)
Give someone a pie when they've had a crummy day. Mail them a pie (perhaps in this box) when you miss them. When you've had an argument or you totally acted like a jerk, a pie will go a long way toward emphasizing your apology. Bring a pie to your friend-crush and take your budding friendship to the next level. Make pie for your significant other all the time and keep the romance alive! All we need is love, yes, but maybe all we need is pie!!
Part of what makes pie so special is that it's not the easiest thing to make, but the good news is that the little tips and tricks you use to bring the whole thing together can become your signature style. See? Pie elevates everything! When we're talking about the difficulty of making pie we're usually referring to the crust, and fortunately, Food 52 has an excellent pie crust troubleshooting guide here. I have been using this recipe for the past several years with success:
1 ¼ c flour (I used organic sprouted flour)
½ c butter cold from the fridge
¼ tsp sea salt
4+ tbs ice water (as needed)
In a food processor, I mix the flour and salt and then add the butter in pieces, 1 Tbs sized squares at a time. After the butter and flour combine into tiny pieces, keep the food processor going and add the ice water a little at a time until the dough starts forming into a ball. Then flour up your whole work surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. I move my crust to the greased pie dish by folding it into quarters, moving it gently to the pie dish, unfolding it and then pressing it into the dish. This recipe makes one crust, multiply by two for a double crust pie. No matter the filling, I bake this crust at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and then check it incessantly for the next 10 minutes until it looks like the crust is finished.
If you want to up your Pie-As-Love-Letter game even more, you can get these adorable alphabet cookie cutters and actually include a message in your pie crust. A Pie-gram! You can punch in your design before you place your crust, but after tends to work better. There are no guarantees on the legibility of the finished product, but this crust recipe seems to hold its shape pretty well. For other fancy crust design tips check out this article.
I am confident that pie is a catalyst for love in relationships, because it's the intentional things that we do for one another that communicate how valuable those people are to us. I think the people in my life are totally worth it!
Do you have any pie making tips or memorable experiences? What does pie mean to you? Is it overrated?