Friday, August 12, 2005

Better in the Mind Than on the Plate

Weekend Assignment #72: Which is better -- cake or pie? Explain your reasoning. Will you choose the moist sponginess and frosting-topped goodness of cake? Or will you side with those flaky crust-adoring, fruit-filling fanatics of the pie nation? You must choose one -- and only one! No trying to suggest that Boston Creme Pie is really kind of like a cake, or how cheesecake is actually not unlike a pie. Take a stand! Be true to your pastry orientation!

Extra Credit: Having chosen cake or pie, now admit your favorite variety of the dessert you did not choose. So if you chose cake, tell us your favorite pie. Prefer pie? Tell us your favorite cake.  - J.S.

For you, John Scalzi, I'll pretend to care about this important issue for our time.

"Buy him a lot of those bubbly pies on your way back. That'll help settle him." - Masterharper Robinton in Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey.

Back when I was going to Golden Corral several times a week, I nearly always had a slice of the no sugar added blueberry pie, usually topped off with a bit of whipped cream from the no sugar added chocolate pudding.  I hardly ever bothered with the cake offerings there, with or without sugar.  I suppose that makes me a pie person, but not a pie partisan.

Are tarts pie?One thing I will say in praise of pie is that it has a much better literary pedigree than cake.  What are the great cake references?  You can put 16 Candles on it, or you can behead a queen after she says something stupid about letting peasants eat it.  That's about it.

Ah, but pie!  Simple Simon met a pieman, four-and-twenty blackbirds survived being baked into a pie, and Little Jack Horner pulled a plum out of his Christmas one.  Don McLean managed to combine pie with the history of rock and roll in one of the longest hit singles ever (at least on 45).  The less said about a series of raunchy films, the better. Apple pie is a symbol for America, along with baseball, hot dogs and, according to a 1960s ad campaign, Chevrolet.  Dean Martin wants me to remind you that "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore."  The Jeffersons finally got a piece of the pie.  Fox Mulder ate a long series of pie slices while interviewing a waitress, according to Jose Chung (Charles Nelson Reilly, in his best role ever) in my favorite X-Files episode.  And wasn't Agent Cooper fond of pie also?

[I can't believe that when I first posted this, I left out two very important pie references.  Here's the first one, quoted verbatim:

Many people ask what are Beatles? Why Beatles? Ugh, Beatles, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision--a man appeared in a flaming pie and said unto them 'From this day on you are Beatles with an A'. Thank you, Mister Man, they said, thanking him.
--from "Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of the Beatles" by John Lennon, Mersey Beat, 1961.

Paul McCartney later named an album Flaming Pie in honor of this "diversion."

The other reference I forgot is also a supposedly non-acidic vision of Lennon's, in which "rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies."  There.  I feel better now.  I now return you to the original entry.]

I like fruit tarts a lot, even if the Queen of Hearts did not make them on a summer's day.  Do they count as pie?  Do fruit-filled chocolate tulips with sponge cake at the bottom count as cake?  Either way, it's the fruit and custard that make these so tasty, not the cake or pie.

In normal pies, I like apple, blueberry and cherry pie, mostly, but lemon meringue and chocolate cream are good, too.  I usually try not to eat the crust, to cut down on the carbs a bit.  I don't think I've ever tried rhubarb pie, or razzleberry. Mince pie belongs with haggis on my personal list of non-foods.

Even for stuff I like, though, I very seldom eat pie at all.  Aside from fruit tarts and quiche, the only pie I've had since changing jobs was a no sugar added apple thing at another buffet restaurant.

Outta pie!Until tonight, that is.  As I wrote this journal entry in my head, I was also shopping for dinner and, under the influence of this Weekend Assignment, for bubbly pies. Bubbly pies are small berry pies sold at Gathers (street fairs) in Anne McCaffrey's Pern books.  For years I've also used the term to refer to little single-serving NSA pies that they used to sell at Albertson's.  I usually got blueberry, and would make it bubbly in the microwave.

But they don't have them any more.  Albertson's now offers 9 inch Nutrasweet apple pies, but they were out of them.  Safeway had nine inch berry pies (what kind of berry was not specified), but the line was long at the register, so I left without one.  Even Boston Market only had brownies and whole pies, no pie slices (or cake slices, either). 

So I tried to settle for sliced sirloin, with sides of green beans and cooked apple slices, the latter being often found in a pie.  I brought back photos of desserts not taken.  And I read half of Dragonsinger, which has a long scene involving bubbly pies. 

Later I went back to Safeway, as I knew I would, and bought the berry pie anyway.  I heated up a slice in the microwave.  It didn't bubble, and I didn't enjoy it at all.  I'm going to throw the rest of it away.

Maybe I should have gone for a  piece of cake.  Even if it did have sugar. 

Why do I torture myself even thinking about this stuff?  It's never worth the guilt.  I just don't enjoy cakes and pies, cookies and chocolate tulips and eclairs nearly as  much as my brain wants me to believe before I do the dirty deed.

Pie: better in literature than on the plate.

Fine.  No more pie.  No more cake.  No more...well, we'll see.

Now don't you all jump on my case about sugar substitutes again. I  don't want to hear it.  And don't tell me the problem is that I don't bake the stuff myself.  Like a character in the film Sibling Rivalry, "I don't cook.  I reheat."  

In fact, I'm sick of this whole subject. Can we not have another food-oriented Weekend Assignment for a while?  Please? 

Perhaps I'm just cranky.  The appraiser comes tomorrow, and I have cleaning left to do.  And I don't want of make this the third night in a row of only four hours of sleep.

Extra Credit:  On the cake side of the fence, I like just about anything that involves fresh fruit and/or chocolate, and contains no trace ofcoffee.

Hey, what about those other worthy desserts I hardly ever let myself have?  What about cookies and baklava, eclairs and cream puffs?  Why just cakes and pies?

Aww, the heck with it.


The tulips have sponge cake in them.


gaboatman said...

Well, Karen, I think this will pretty much take care of any dessert entries for you for some time now, LOL!  Did you have to mention baklava right at the end?  Now I'm hungry.  Good luck with the appraiser.  I hope all goes well.

ryanagi said...

::drool::  Ok...Did you HAVE to put all those photos in here?!?!

sakishler said...

"On the cake side of the fence, I like just about anything that involves fresh fruit and/or chocolate."

Heh! This is exactly what I asked for when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday on Monday (but I don't mind a trace of coffee).

I'm glad you got cranky at the end of this and reminded that eating lots of sweet stuff actually makes you feel crappy. 'Cause otherwise there's no telling what I would have done.

sakishler said...

Ah, but The Beatles had their cake and ate it too!

We've got John and Yoko eating chocolate cake in a bag, and then, of course, there's one of my very favorite song lyrics ever (thank you, George!):

"All the world is birthday cake, so take a piece, but not too much."

You turned this fun!

monponsett said...

I chose pastry, are a good person.

curvyanglintexas said...

Excellent Entry and Now I'm craving... Brownies?! LOL Well I don't have any other sort of "stuff" for a cake or pie in the house, so Brownies will have to do! ;)