In the 1996 movie Michael, John Travolta starred as an archangel sent to Earth to do various tasks. Andie MacDowell co-starred and sang a country song entitled Pie. In the restaurant scene, Travolta orders two dozen different pies and my mouth watered for the next hour.
What is it about pie? Whether serving it a la mode or a la not mode, pie has a place in our hearts as a favorite comfort food along with meatloaf, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, tomato soup and oil sandwiches. Yes, oil sandwiches. Salted olive oil on Wonder bread. This was my childhood comfort food. Every bite left me with feelings of warmth, love and all is right with the world. If you’re having a hard time wrapping your head around an ‘oil sandwich’, just think of dipping breads and oil – same thing just using fancy rolls and not white Wonder bread.
Historians trace pie’s initial origins to the Greeks, who are thought to be the originators of the pastry shell. Even then people disagreed about what constitutes a pie. Some said that any dish that has a crust with a filling is a pie and others said there are only 4 types of pies – fruit, custard, cream and savory. My belief, it’s a pie if it’s warm and smothered with ice cream.
Apple pie still remains America’s favorite but contrary to popular belief, it isn’t an American invention. The first written apple pie recipe dates back to 1381. It was printed by Geoffrey Chaucer and included apples, figs, raisins, and pears in a pastry shell…no sugar.
Recently I made my first pie. Yes, you read correctly. I’m ‘older than my tongue and younger than my teeth’ and never made a pie. Growing up my Mom made all types of desserts but not pies. So why did I decide to make one? An abundance of ripe peaches. We were having friends for dinner and to guarantee a successful meal, I made my specialty – 4 layered lasagna with sweet Italian sausage and meatballs, garlic/cheese bread and Caesar salad. Usually my go-to dessert would be any bakery item from the Amish Market but since I had all these peaches I decided to bake a pie. After all who better to experiment on than friends!
One thing I knew about pie baking was the crust can make or break it. Pillsbury Pie Crust to the rescue. Didn’t want to experiment too much after all, I like these friends. After slicing the peaches, I realized that I didn’t have the five cups that was called for. I looked around and there they were – red, shiny crisp, apples, perfect to fill the peach shortage. After coring, peeling, and slicing the apples, I was still a cup short. Now what? Searching the refrigerator I found fresh, plumb blueberries. Just enough to make the required 5 cups.
The Peachappleberry pie was delicious, the friends didn’t die and I have a new baking passion…Lemon Meringue anyone?