A Weekend of Pie, Texas-style

My weekend trip to Texas can be summed up in one word: pie.

Picture a flaky pie shell.  Now add a healthy dose of coconut, stir in some raisins, sprinkle in some vinegar, and dump in a mess of pecans, along with the requisite sugar and eggs.  This, in essence, is a Japanese fruit pie, a traditional Southern dessert that proves once and for all that even though you think you may know food, or baking, or pie, if you travel outside your normal geographic region, you’re likely to discover that you really don’t know diddly. 

According to Nancie McDermott, author of Southern Cakes: Sweet and Irresistible Recipes for Everyday Celebrations and the forthcoming Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan (Chronicle Books), Japanese fruit pie is the “elder sister” of the “old timey” Japanese fruit cake, “a grand dame of a cake which has slipped from the common repertoire.”  The use of raisins in both the pie and the cake gives these desserts a remarkable boost, as the raisins “blossom into big fat flavor delivery systems.”

Another Southern dessert I enjoyed during my weekend getaway was a traditional chess pie, which, according to Mollie Cox Bryan, is classically “elegant in its simplicity.”  Bryan, author of Mrs. Rowe’s Little Book of Southern Pies (Ten Speed Press), says chess pie got its name when a man in Alabama stopped at a diner and ordered dessert.  After enjoying a slice of pie and asking what it was called, he was told, plainly, “Jes pie.”

I’d say chess pie and Japanese fruit pie are both jes right, and if you know any true Southerners, ask them immediately for an introduction.

-The Daily Feed: They Don't Call it a Pie-Hole for Nothing

-See all of Cheryl's posts here

Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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