Friday, August 22, 2008

The Pietopia Event 2008!

It finally happened and what a show it was! There was an A-MA-ZING array of pies, all of which were fabulous. I honestly can not pick one, or even two as my top favorites. I find it interesting that all the pies were equally as good. Not that I was expecting anything less than great from these talented folks, but still, not one mediocre pie? The winners were judged upon their statements in how creative they were in their statements correlating the taste of the pie with their life, not the actual taste of the pie. And yet, when the time came to sample the pies themselves, the flavor of each of them was fantastic. A combination of the mounting excitement of myself, friends, and the community around this event I believe made everything even that much sweeter.

Pies have a long-standing stigma attached to them. Like bread making, pie making has become something of an marvel in the American kitchen. Interestingly enough, pies were redefined by the American Kitchen dating back to colonial settlement. Pie had been around for centuries before the British started colonizing the Americas. However, because the pie was an easy vehicle for food preservation, early Americans embraced it. Pie is a part of our short but deep American heritage, and like cooking seasonally, we have seemingly lost touch with it.

I would like to alleviate some of this angst right now and tell you, pie making is not all that difficult. Carve out a few hours on a weekend afternoon, or some morning or evening, when you can be in your kitchen with you and you alone. Get out your flour, cut up your unsalted butter into little bits and toss them together in your favorite big mixing bowl. Now get your hands in it. That's right, feel the texture of the butter and the flour between your fingers, against your palms, and notice that you are creating something entirely different than what you started with. Put your new concoction of dough in the fridge and cut up your favorite seasonal fruit. Maybe you got the fresh plumbs because the vendor at the farmer's market gave you a try and they took you back to place you hadn't thought of since you were a kid. Maybe you picked the berries or apples yourself. Whatever it is you decided to use, it was because you intuitively knew this was how this pie had to be. Notice how the smell of the kitchen changes with each minute the pie is in the oven. When your olfactory senses have peaked with intensity of the sweet aroma, you know your pie is done. Take it out and savor it's steaming, buttery crust with the spicy, sweet juices of the fruit. Now that doesn't sound too torturous to try. I hope you can utilize this gold mine of recipes, tastes, and thoughts and maybe even take time to recognize the custom of pie making so that it will not become too lost of an art. Cheers!
Marlene Dopp, Pietopia winner, Chemo Therapy Pie (Vegan Apple Pie, so yum!!)

Thom Wheeler, Pietopia winner, Homesick for Miami Pie (Beef-Plantain Pie. Like whoa.)

Maryanne Capobianco, Pietopia winner, Red Door Rhubarb Pie (amazing!)