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Pie

Pie

By Marcella Escarfuller

Click aqui para español- >PIE (Tarta)

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.“ -- David Mamet

Pie. There is no other word in the English language that automatically becomes a dreamy echo in your mind. Not only are they delicious, they’re entirely perfect in their simplicity – a beautiful, flaky, golden crust filled with pretty much anything you can think of, savory or sweet.

So, let’s talk about pie. For most Americans, pies are synonymous with Thanksgiving, whether it be apple, pumpkin, or sweet potato. But pies are a longstanding tradition going back several thousand years. Historians credit pie’s origins to the ancient Greeks. In medieval England, pies were predominantly savory dishes that served as the main course. The modern word for pie is said to have come from medieval English, named after the magpie, a bird known for collecting many miscellaneous objects in its nest.

Contrary to popular belief, there were no modern-day pies at the first Thanksgiving in 1621. At the time, Pilgrims mostly brought traditional English meat-based recipes to the colonies. The pumpkin pie we all associate with Thanksgiving was first recorded in a cookbook in 1675, and the recipe wasn’t popularized in America until the 1800s. That’s not to say that the colonists didn’t make pies – as a matter of fact, it was one of the preferred methods of cooking because the crusty tops acted as a means to preserve food, especially during the winter months.

Meanwhile, Spain had developed its own take on pies – empanadas. Technically a hand-pie, empanada comes from the Spanish empanar, literally “enbreaded.” Their origins can be traced to Galicia, the northwesternmost region of Spain.

Most Latin American countries have their own version of empanadas, which are almost always filled with some type of minced meat or chicken. Central American empanadas are made with a dough very similar to traditional American pie crust, while the Colombian empanada is made with a corn flour dough.

As for New Orleans, there is one pie in particular that is near and dear to the city’s traditions: pecan. The irresistibly ooey-gooey pie – made with brown sugar, sugar syrup, eggs, butter and molasses (and sometimes bourbon) – is said to have been invented by French settlers right here in New Orleans, after being introduced to the pecan nut by the Native American Quinipissa and Tangipahoa tribes.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re all preoccupied with the planning, traveling, and trying to make enough room in the fridge for the turkey and sides. It’s a day that we all look forward to as Americans – taking the time to give thanks for all of life’s blessings, being surrounded by friends and family and enormous amounts of comfort food.

They say the sides make the meal, but don’t forget to save room for pie.

Marcella Escarfuller

Writer/Escritora

NOLA Food

Louisiana / New Orleans

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