Do you hate pie?
Are you one those "cake people" who hates pie and everything it stands for: fruitiness, crustiness, wholesomeness, joy?
A battle is brewing in our newsroom over this cake vs. pie thing, and it started out with a harmless poll sent to everyone in honor of National Pie Day (which is Jan. 23).
"Hello, adults!" I wrote. "Are you a pie person, or a cake person?"
So naive and young-brained was I to think it could end in a harmonious agreement (just kidding, I knew it would be chaos).
More than a hundred responses came back in the following hours -- a virtual, if enlightening, food fight (and now I know which cake people to avoid in staff meetings). The results? Pie pitifully lost by two votes.
Some quotes from the Cakers:
"Cake is obviously the correct answer. Do we put candles in our birthday pies? No. No, we do not. Birthdays are the best > we eat cake for birthdays > thus, cake is the best." -- Emily Peck, executive Business and Technology editor
"If you're talking about fresh, warm pie, that's one thing, but I live in the real world and we all need to admit that the vast majority of pie eaten is room temperature to cold, rendering it a gloopy, disgusting fruit salad mess surrounded by dry, flaking bread. I get that some cakes are bad -- too dry or dense, whatever -- but good cakes are way better than the best pie, and the best cakes (and frosting) are just an otherworldly flavor experience." -- Hilary Hanson, news editor
Pie: Some ingredient masquarading as cake.
"I've never seen a pie as beautiful as a wedding cake. As Weddings editor, it is my duty to share that with you." -- Ashley Reich, Weddings editor
"What *is* pie, really? Setting aside that existential question momentarily, pie has too many consistency issues. It so easily can be too soggy or too dry, and even when it's done well, when the proportions are in balance, it's just some cake facsimile. That's really all pie is: some ingredient -- cherry, chocolate, key lime, rhubarb (rhubarb? Yes. Rhubarb) -- masquerading as cake." -- Matt Fuller, congressional reporter
"Does Rihanna have a song about PIE? Team cake obviously." -- Krithika Varagur, associate editor, What's Working
Some quotes from Pie People:
"You can have sweet pie, savory pie (pizza pie, anyone?), fruity pie, creamy pie, chocolatey pie, crumb-topped pie, buttery-crusted pie. And pie is NEVER DRY. Or iced with uncooked SHORTENING. You can't say that for cake." -- Kristen Aiken, executive Taste and Lifestyle editor
"How is this even a question? What would you rather have: crispy buttery delicious crust or gross ('is this food?') fondant? What about peach cobbler? Isn't that a kind of pie? Isn't that more delicious than every wedding cake you've ever had?" -- James Thilman, special projects editor
Cake is formulaic, low-brow, kitsch.
"Pie's harder to ruin (cake frosting is, by and large, disgusting), less prone to decoration mishaps and, also, no one's ever sticking a candle in it so it's not getting anyone sick." -- Joseph Erbentraut, senior What's Working editor
"One must consider what goes into each -- not only the ingredients but the technique as well. Cake is formulaic, low-brow, kitsch. It demands nothing of the artisan, as demonstrated by the long success of the Easy-Bake Oven marketed to children. Pie is a higher form of achievement. It requires precision but also an acquaintance with the shambolic, alchemical side of cuisine, rooted in instinct and experience. To put cake next to pie is to put Koons next to Michelangelo; 'Call Me Maybe' next to Beethoven's Ninth; bullshit next to the sublime." -- Stuart Whatley, executive blog editor
To sum up:
Clearly pie is the right choice (even though cake regrettably won our poll), so why such hatred for pie?
Part of the reason is that people often get bad pie, as in "not well made" pie,
said Emily Elsen, who knows how to make really good pies at Four & Twenty Blackbirds, her pie shop in Brooklyn that she runs with her sister, Melissa.
She told HuffPost it comes down to the pie crust: "Oftentimes pie crust will be made with hydrogenated fat, flavorless fats, like Crisco or shortening that doesn't have any real flavor to it. Pie crust can be really unpleasant if it’s not made well. Oftentimes people think of pie crust as the vehicle, not what’s the good part of it, so it can be secondary but that’s a myth that we’ve tired to dispel with our pies." (You can get their pie crust recipe here.)
Pie crust can be really unpleasant if it’s not made well. Emily Elsen, co-founder of Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn
If you are somehow still not convinced, take a look at the history of the pie: In its early days, it is said that the Greeks used pies to transport meat across long journeys. So that makes them functional and delicious. But instead of a crust, we used to call it a "coffyn," because it carried dead meat! Are you still on Team Cake? According to the American Pie Council (is there a cake council? No.) in fowl pies, we'd let the legs hang off the side and use them as handles. I'd like to see a cake with dead-meat handles!
So if after all of this you still hate pies, consider yourself probably in the majority. Even so: It is a litmus test of our times.
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