This is an introductory post.
Some of you may have already been reading my previous blog – Catcalled With Turnips – which I may or may not continue to post on. For now, things remain uncertain. What is certain (I think…) is that I am embarking upon a new culinary journey, one that I’ve had in the back of my head and my heart for many years now.
I am going to make a pie a week for a year.
When my dad was a much younger man, he won 2nd prize (or was it 1st prize?!) in a county fair apple pie competition. I’m told his competitors were primarily elderly farm wives, who scoffed at my dad and assumed his pie would be terrible. This is how I remember the story, but I wasn’t there and these kinds of stories often take on a mythic quality. It’s probably more likely that the women felt no animosity towards my dad whatsoever, and that they were impressed with the interest a young man had taken in baking. I can’t be sure.
My maternal grandmother – Marnie, as she was known to us – made the best pies. I realize this is a common statement about grandmothers, but of course I think that my own grandmother is the one who really made the best pies. When she got too old to make pies for Thanksgiving every year, my mom and I would struggle with the pastry, breaking it and overworking it and cursing in the kitchen. Every year someone else would give us their “foolproof” recipe that clearly couldn’t stand up to fools such as us. And when our tough, burnt, pathetic pies were eaten for dessert, we would marvel at how Marnie managed to make them so well. “You need to make a pie a week for a year” she’d say. “Then you will be good at making pies”. I’ve been meaning to take on this challenge for some time now. After all, I seem to have pie in my blood. Today marks the start of it all. A year of pies.
When I’ve talked about this idea in the past, most people think it to be a little bit crazy, mostly I think because they cannot imagine eating a pie every week. Perhaps they are afraid of butter and fat and so on. I am afraid of car accidents and of food poisoning but I am not afraid of butter. Butter gets a bad rap if you ask me – over the years people seem to have discarded delicious, whole, natural butter in favour of things like margarine, a frightening concoction of hydrogenated vegetable oils that I feel certain is much worse for us than mere butter is. I do not mean to be dismissive of people who have complicated relationships with butter – our fatphobic culture breeds this kind of fear – in everyone – but often especially in women. A pie a week for a year is not just about making and eating pies, but it is also about learning to love fat – both that with which we cook and that which is a part of our beautiful bodies.
As for the “rules” as it were: I’ve decided that since this is about making good pastry, I will count both sweet and savoury pies to be part of the equation, and will also count galettes, which are essentially just a lazy man’s pie. We call that “rustic” these days. I will make one pie per week, every week, for the next year. And I’m going to blog about it.
See you there.