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Apple Pie

(article, Christina Eng)

The sweet classic gets its due in this breezy and informative read. One in a short series of books on beloved American foods (including Fried Chicken, Hamburger & Fries, and Donuts), John T. Edge’s Apple Pie looks at the history and folklore of this iconic dessert, from its English origins in the 14th century to its current status among food fans across the United States. 

From Oxford, Mississippi, where he directs the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi, the author travels to Washington State, where “growers harvest more than fifteen billion apples each year.” That’s a whole lot of pie. 

Edge also heads to the Midwest and Southwest. In Iowa City, he checks out the Hamburg Inn, an old-school diner that serves apple-pie shakes. “Chock-full of crust fragments and crushed apple slices, the shake calls to mind a better class of Dairy Queen Blizzard,” he writes. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, he spends time at Señor Pie, tasting “apple pies spiked with fiery green chiles.” 


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In Florida, however, Edge runs into “the dark side of pie.” A judge in the National Pie Championships, held during the Great American Pie Festival in Celebration, Florida, he finds representatives from Sara Lee, Entenmann’s, and Mrs. Smith’s “pimping freezer-case pies.” He watches children learn to make pastry dough from scratch, only to later use canned pie filling. And he worries, necessarily, about our culinary future. 

p(bio). [ "Christina Eng"] is a writer in Oakland, California.

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