Much pie in this country is gloppy and soggy. Sadly, this may have to do with the now several generations raised without basic cooking and baking skills… skills we need for survival. Western culture bought into a canned, boxed, frozen and fast food lifestyle a long time ago. And sadly, this may be the lasting “cuisine” for which our country is remembered.
In the book, “Pie Every Day” by Pat Willard, one can read about the New England Kitchen, an 1880’s movement begun by Wilbur O. Atwater. Mr. Atwater believed that “America was being drained of it’s preeminent strength by the bad eating habits of the new immigrants and working class poor who inhabited the cities’ slums.” He advocated a diet of cheap cuts of meat, canned and processed foods, no flours, grains, fresh fruits, or vegetables. Popular magazines of the day took up the cry including Sara Tyson Rorer, “Ladies Home Journal”, food editor who proclaimed, “All forms of so-called pie are to be condemned.”
Ms. Willard proposes that Atwater’s New England kitchen may have found converts among middle-class women who were tired of spending time in the kitchen and “faced with a shortage of people willing to go into service, embraced his simpler recipes”…recipes that included little in the way of pie.
From the “coffins” of the middle ages and before, to the deconstructed pies of our age, PIE has survived and will continue to survive. Skilled pie-makers gain their “chops” by having the craft passed on to them if they were lucky or, learning by trial and error as I did.
Like bread baking, making pie is a simple and time honored craft. Some of us feel called to pass this on to as many as possible.
There is a scene in “Soylent Green” where Charlton Heston asks Edward G Robinson “Why don’t you eat something?”
“I’m not hungry enough yet. Tasteless. Odorless crud.
You don’t know any better.
You know, when I was a kid…food was food.”
I hope we always have food, REAL food, grown by real farmers and prepared by people who are willing to take the time to come to the kitchen to prepare and the table to eat more than a gloppy, soggy, tasteless boxed product calling itself pie.