Tuesday, October 16, 2012

American as Apple Pie

My apple pie is the Joe Biden of pies. Scrappy and jovial, yet substantive; it is annoying to conservative diners who prefer pies baked with pious, flavorless Red Delicious (doublespeak, indeed). While other banal pies might be characterized as traditional, my apple pie is in-your-face with flavor and diversity (I tend to use a wide range of hardy Minnesota varieties). It is hardworking and honest, quick and aggressive in flavor, authentic and often described as flaky. But isn't always pretty to look at, and no matter how many plugs I add to the crust, the expansive barren patches will not be contained. It tends to interrupt dinner.

T is an apple pie zealot. Since the beginning of apple season I've baked nearly two pies a week, and he's devoured every one of them. Last week he brought home a store-baked apple pie in protest of a week without homemade. He grimaced with the first bite. "It tastes like someone spilled a bottle of perfume over the top." He ate the entire pastry, but he didn't enjoy it.

Inside many of my old church and community cookbooks are recipes for mock apple pie. Purportedly created by pioneer women without access to fresh fruit and rising in popularity during the Great Depression, soda crackers (and more recently Ritz brand crackers) replace the fruit innards of an apple pie. I've never attempted this technique. Seems to me when apples are available we ought not mock them. Artificial isn't a term I am fond of.

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