The All American Dessert. A pretty easy thing to celebrate and I must admit, I didn’t go hog wild trying to find the perfect celebration for it. I was working most of the day and Saturdays tend to be a little busier than most days, so I was running around for most of the afternoon. At the end of our day, we have to prepare the rooms for any events on the following day which will be Mother’s Day, so after being on our feet all day slinging wine, we had to move around all kinds of bars, set-ups and tables. That’s when I realize why restaurant work is a young man’s (or woman’s) game. Nothing a good dose of Aleve couldn’t help later. Regardless, old or young would not be eager to jump into making an apple pie after a long day like that, so on my way home I stopped by Stop and Shop and grabbed a pie that was lovingly made in their bakery. It was a small pie and only $4. It would work. And don’t worry, I picked up some vanilla ice cream too.
The first known written recipe for apple pie dates back to an English cookbook published in 1381. Apples had been around for thousands of years and had been enjoyed by the ancient Greeks and Macedonians. The English are attributed to turning them into delicious pies and tarts although the version they enjoyed in the 14th century was much different than the apple pie of today due to sugar being scarce in English times. The Dutch are believed to be the folks who took the pie to the next level and created the Dutch Apple Pie that we are familiar with today with its deep dish and lattice covered top. In America, the only apple that was native to our soil was the crabapple, but thanks to the early settlers who brought apple trees with them from Europe and after extensive pollination efforts, the apple trees started to prosper on American soil. Naturally when the Pennsylvania Dutch colony was settled, the famous Dutch Apple Pie would come to America too.
In the 20th century, Apple Pie came to symbolize prosperity and the essence of the American dream. A British writer once quipped that no one should ever have apple pie more than twice a week, but a New York Times editorial combatted that advice with the following words:
“[Eating pie twice per week] is utterly insufficient, as anyone who knows the secret of our strength as a nation and the foundation of our industrial supremacy must admit. Pie is the American synonym of prosperity, and its varying contents the calendar of changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can be permanently vanquished.”
As the century moved on and the second World War began bringing so many Americans overseas, when the press would ask soldiers why they were willing to fight in the war, the typical response they received was “for mom and apple pie.” That’s kind of where the expression of American as Apple Pie began to take off and root itself in the common lexicon. The expression had been around prior to that and is sometime attributed to the cooking of Herbert Hoover’s wife Lou Henry (which is now my favorite name for a First Lady), but during the war, the concept really drove home. Then Chevrolet took the phrase and ran with it in the sixties (Thanks Don Draper).
My apple pie adventure was as simple as it could be. After dinner while watching our shows (does that make me sound like my grandmother watching her soap operas?), I went to the kitchen and cut us a couple of pieces. I microwaved each piece for about 20 seconds to heat it up. If you are having apple pie, having it warm is a must. Then I scooped on a nice scoop of Edy’s Vanilla Ice Cream.
While 20% of all Americans will say that apple pie is their favorite, it’s not my favorite. I prefer berry pies over apple, but an apple pie is still good. It’s the combo of the warm apples, the cinnamon and the buttery, flaky crust all cooled with some creamy, sweet ice cream. What’s wrong with that? This pie was ok. A homemade pie would have been better, but this would have to do. Lola thought it had a cheese flavor to it and she was convinced there was a layer of cheese inside. I didn’t see any cheese listed in the ingredients, but I do trust Lola’s palate, so maybe there was a cheese-type agent in the pie whose flavor really came through. I told her that some people serve their apple pie with a slice of melted cheese on top and she was aghast. She had not heard of such a thing and didn’t understand such blasphemy. I may have to try that someday, just for curiosity sake. Is that really a thing? For us however, if there was going to be any dairy products with our pie it would be in the form of ice cream. The Edy’s ice cream was awesome. Their vanilla is particularly good. It has a bright, strong vanilla flavor and was still nice and scoop-able. All in all it was a good dessert, just not outstanding. Maybe that’s the new American apple pie promise.
Not a celebration for the ages but for someone that worked a long day, it was kind of a good little way to round out the day. Nothing complicated. No messes made. No ovens cranking. Just a cut into a pie that was made for us to celebrate. It came with ice cream. It was warm. And it was fun to eat alongside my Lola who was in a particularly funny mood when I came home. She made me laugh and feel happy to be home. That’s a celebration I could do every night. That’s my American dream.
Next up: National Buttermilk Biscuit Day
History info sourced from PriceEconomics.com