This is an ode to pie. You may think it a trivial pursuit to praise pie, but I say good pie is one of the finest master strokes of human creativity – culinary or otherwise.
First, a word about an ode. I am told it was a poem form originating in Ancient Greece, as far back as 500 BCE. That form of ode was far fancier than this homely newspaper column in that it had three stanzas sung by a chorus. The first stanza was sung walking along one side of the orchestra, the second stanza down the other side, and the third stanza dramatically sung in the middle of the audience. But there have been many odes since then, with varying forms and complexity. Mine is not a poem or song, just praise.
This ode to pie is owed to the loss of Monica’s pies, that citadel of exquisite fruit pastry in Naples, NY. Closed now except for the occasional pop-up event, it leaves a permanent sorrow upon the landscape.
My ode to pie extends to the category of fruit but does not include cream pies or other such impostors. Mincemeat is hideous and pecan pie only edible because of the gooey sweet stuff between the nuts. Boston Crème Pie is wonderful yet more truly cake than pie. But fruit pies! They are righteous and worthy of praise in any form – blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, cherry – oh, cherry – strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, grape, or apple. Some are better than others, but only by degree and only as a matter of personal preference. As a genus fruit pie rocks.
I have a daughter-in-law that can make a cherry pie to die for, and a sister that excels at blueberry. Both of them can conjure up a fantastic pie of any kind but these are my two favorites. Alas, neither live close, so the loss of Monica’s is a deep and severe grief.
“Why?” you might ask, an ode to pie? “Really?” I would say in return.
Well, sometimes, you just have to write about what is good in the world. There is more than a little being written and broadcast about all that is bad and hideous. Besides, I would like to prove I am more than a one-trick pony when it comes to writing a newspaper column of significance. You might imagine I can only write about the lake, birds, the politics of ego, or my dog. Here then is an important and deeply profound column about the goodness of pie.
Now as surely as I write about the wonder of pie someone is going to challenge me on it. There will be people upset that so many words have been wasted on a calorific topic when there is so much bad news to hover over. Indeed, the sheer volume of leadership failures of all kinds is enough to fill every daily newspaper from now until kingdom come. Some people might quibble that if I am going to write about something else it should be about pasta or chocolate, or the best kinds of donuts. Leave it to the critics to analyze but I am taking a break to talk pie.
Did I mention lemon meringue? It is so very different in texture and substance than other fruit pies but still, it is fruit and pie!