Speaking of mothers, I was visiting with my dear mother the other day and the topic of the moment was pie. I was observing that “pie seemed to be the new cupcake” or something witty like that and so I began to explore the role of pie in her life. At first we chatted about Granny’s pie from years ago, and then her mom’s pie, and then her sister’s pies etc. all of them of course being tied to a big Catholic family get together (being one of 12 bros and sisters). There were pumpkin, apple, cherry, peach, coconut cream, banana cream, pecan, etc., lots of delicious memories over the years.
I then began to ask her about ‘going out for pie’ and she said that that was very common in the 60s and 70s especially. After dinner (or breakfast or lunch) at a hole-in-the-wall diner or restaurant, folks would order a slice of pie. These pies were either in that jewel case up front by the cash regsister or were on pedastals, by the kitchen, ready for a quick slice for the customers. Pie was commonplace in the America of that time period…both family, and in the food scene. Her favorite? A place over by the Udub on Brooklyn that had a HUGE slice of apple pie with a slice of melted cheddar cheese and then a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Every pass through Seattle, she would stop there and have a slice of heaven.
Something began to go wrong, very wrong. In the 80s, the restaurants weren’t committed to their pie-making craft. The quality went down, the portions were smaller, and people stopped eating pie when out and about. Even restaurants like Denny’s and Shari’s had a hard time selling their pie. People began to lose touch with this slice of Americana…the fruit or cream pies associated with church picnics, potlucks, and holidays shared throughout the country. When on the road and with Route 66 gone, the stopover places to get a slice of local cherry pie were drying up, and when they were there…they tasted like s***. Apparently we were going to lose this integral part of our American culture…but a couple of decades later…there were signs of hope.
This century, there has been a rebirth of a lot of the food crafts. Engineers and computer programmers everywhere are returning to the farms and artisan workshops of the past and learning to make cheese, artisan meats, and of course desserts. For over 20 years, if you wanted ANY bakery items in this country you usually went to the large supermarkets. A revolution was brewing as independent bread shops, bakeries, chocolatiers, cupcakes, and now…PIE shops are springing up. Nowadays you can count on getting a large slice of PIE (for $5 of course…not 75 cents like the old days) and an espresso or some good strong black coffee. Of course baking a pie is ALWAYS the right thing to do, for your mom or for anyone for that matter, but if you want to back in time, and have a slice, or even a full pie with old and new flavors, here are a few spots you should consider for mom.
- High 5 Pie: Located off of Madison on the edge of Cap Hill, this 60s era decor/diner-like setting is selling some great pie. Started from Grandmas recipes from the guys who brought you Fuel coffee, High 5 has great fruit, savory, and cream pies. Plus you can get them in all sorts of sizes. Pie pops, pocket pies, pies in jars, slices, full pies, and gynormous ones too. http://www.high5pie.com/.
- Seattle Pie Company: Heard on the street that these guys have bang up berry pies. Over in the Magnolia neighborhood, find out more at http://www.seattlepiecompany.com/.
- Sweet and Savory Pie: This spot over in the Fremont neighborhood has great traditionals as well as loverly savory pies like curried beef, chicken pot, asparagus and lots more. www.sweetandsavorypie.com/.
- The Piecycle: Need pie delivered to you? Follow on Twitter @thepiecycle and have slices of yummy pie brought to your home or office, including late night stops in the U District!
So there…you now have no excuse. You can buy your mom chocolate, cupcakes, or pie from several great locations around the Pacific NW. Happy Mother’s day…even if you are an “ugly motha” like me…