Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Pie is the new....pie?

On my recent visit to NYC, I flew with Southwest Airlines. I swore allegiance to this quirky, friendly airline during college when I discovered I could fly home from school for only $60! These days, Southwest isn’t always the best deal, but I try to fly them whenever I can for their great service, free checked bags, and – who am I kidding – their hot chocolate! As far as I know, they’re still the only airline that offers hot chocolate as an in-flight drink choice and they also have the cutest snacks (I got little airplane-shaped crackers on my flight home this past Christmas!).

This time around, I found another new reason to ‘luv’ Southwest: their in-flight magazine, Spirit. I’ve enjoyed their mag before (usually for the monthly dollar-bill-origami tutorials – I bring a different one back for Matt each time I travel!), but the August issue was especially enjoyable because it had a huge feature, complete with several full-page photos, all about pie!

Anyone who has witnessed the ‘cupcake craze’ of the past few years has probably head the predictions – apparently cupcakes are on the way out…and pie is on its way in. Of course, there are those who say pie never left, and judging by the Spirit article, this has to be true. The writers detail a brief history of pie, tracing its origins all the way back to ancient Greece. Other highlights include the banning of pie as ‘a pagan form of pleasure’ by England's Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, in 1644, and the widespread adoption of pumpkin pie as a Turkey Day staple as far back as 1623.

The article is full of other fascinating little, pastry-covered tidbits; in case you were wondering, the top supplier of frozen pies last year was Schwann, and Boston Cream Pie is technically a cake, not a pie. A recipe for ‘pompkin’ pie appears in the first American cookbook, Ameila Simmon’s American Cookery, published in 1796, but apparently Americans are still pretty passionate pie eaters, consuming six slices of pie each year (I guess I’m an overachiever!) and purchasing over 186 million pies yearly in grocery stores  - and that doesn’t even take into account those of us who bake them at home!

For those who do prefer a home-baked pie, the magazine also provides a few recipes. S’mores Delight Pie, Cherry and Almond Galette (for more on my love of galettes, check out this post), and Brown Sugar Apple Pie are just some of the possibilities. They also detail the ingredients of some more unusual pies (soda cracker or navy bean pie, anyone?) and include a pie-centric Q&A session with none other than Martha Stewart (for the curious among you, her favorite is Brandy Apple Pie and she never eats pie a la mode).

In short, the feature is a great read, guaranteed to leave you craving a piece of Dutch Apple or a slice of Lemon Meringue - and leave you more informed about America’s favorite pastry than you ever thought possible. If you get the chance, snag a copy before the issue changes at the end of the month (or check it out online)! For those of you not scheduled to travel any time soon, I hope to make and feature at least one or two of their recipes in the future. If delayed gratification isn’t your thing (and when it comes to pie, I completely understand!), check out my recent post on the Triple Berry Galette – the crust is based on Martha Stewart’s pate brisee. Of course, if the writers of the Spirit article are to be believed, there's no real reason to rush - pies have been around for a long, long time and they're here to stay!

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