Sorry, I let my ‘terrible’ half get the better of me just now. It’s just that after having just read this nonsensical piece by Nathan Heller titled PIE: It’s gloppy, it’s soggy, it’s un-American, my initial reaction after having muddled through this ridiculous argument was to put it mildly, not for the feint of heart. However, I have taken a step back and now as my blood pressure slowly levels out, am ready to respond to such pointlessness.
History Tells Us…
As American as Apple Pie. If you’ve been around any length of time you have probably heard this statement at one point or another. Well, Heller goes on this historical tirade arguing that pie is NOT American at all, but in fact originated from ‘across the pond’ so-to-speak and we essentially ‘adopted’ it as our own here in America. I hate to put anything from Heller’s article on my blog but to belabor my point:
Pie is an interloper trading on a false history and a tangle of confusion about its cultural role. Its past is unremarkable and un-American. As you may recall from your middle-school history books, many accoutrements of Western life first appeared in Egypt and then spread to the Romans via Greece. Prophylactics are a notable example. Pie is another one. The pies of the ancients, rather than being oozing desserts, were combinations of savory foods baked in a pot made of tough dough. (In our evolutionary tree of Western cooking, pies, tellingly, share a branch with the most hit-or- missof all edible things, the casserole.) This crust-pot baking method spread through Europe and gained popularity through the Middle Ages, since the dough shell, called a bake-meat (later, just as appetizingly, a coffin), allowed meats to stew without losing moisture. It also helped seal off the meal and slow down spoilage. “For hundreds of years,” Janet Clarkson points out in her jaunty account of pie development, Pie: A Global History, “it was the only form of baking container—meaning everything was pie.” Pie culture grew with the advent of modern pastry dough during the 16th century, at which point cooks in more ambitious kitchens started to experiment with sweeter fillings. (Queen Elizabeth is said to have eaten some of the first fruit pies.) This is the true origin of our pie tradition. Early apple pies weren’t American and sweet at all. They were unsugared, tough, and manufactured by the British.
What is American? America, is a land of IMMIGRANTS. IMMIGRANTS who migrated from every corner of the planet. IMMIGRANTS who have brought with them their traditions, their culture, their language…THEIR FOOD! THIS IS AMERICA MR. HELLER!! The country is a patchwork everything planet Earth has to offer. That is the beauty of the country! Everything that we are is from somewhere else!
So just because you find pie very ‘foreign’ doesn’t make it any less American, and I’m sure there are millions who would back that notion up.
The Great Thing About Food
In the end, the great thing about food, especially in America, is that there is such a HUGE variety of it. We are fortunate enough to have access to many great dishes and recipes from around the world right here within the U.S. and NO other country can boast such a claim. So if Mr. Heller detests pie that’s his choice, but BOOOO on him! He’s got me so upset I’m going DEVOUR a warm slice of BLACKBERRY PIE just to spite him!