Let us now give thanks for the day of many pies

November 19, 1997|By Rob Kasper

Thanksgiving is a pie-friendly feast, and that is a major reason why I regard it as the greatest celebration known to mankind.

The Thanksgiving meal has many appealing parts. There is the radiant bird, the hills of steaming stuffing, the mountains of mashed potatoes and the endless eruptions of cranberries. These dishes make for a pleasant journey, but our destination, of course, is dessert. On Thanksgiving, dessert means pies -- in the plural.

Pies influence the entire meal, even the vegetable course. Since pies are our final stopping point, we are in a good mood. This means that during the meal we are willing to tolerate vegetables that once terrorized us. For instance, brussels sprouts and I have a troubled past. When I was a kid, sprouts held me hostage at the weeknight supper table. I couldn't get dessert until I had eaten, or at least chewed on, one of the dreaded green lumps.

That is all behind me, at least on Thanksgiving. Now if some sprout-eating relative pushes a bowl of the hated buds in front of me during the Thanksgiving meal, I just wave them off. "No, thank you," I say aloud, while saying "Gack! Gack! Gack!" silently to myself.

One trick I use to keep myself cheery in the face of brussels-sprouts terror is to keep my eyes on the pies. Like most properly-outfitted Thanksgiving households, ours has an array of homemade pies on display during the meal.

When I take my place at the Thanksgiving table, I always try to get a seat with a clear view of the pies. If I can rest my eyes on these homemade beauties, I can remain at peace, even when threatened with a dreaded vegetable or two.

Sometimes sprouts are in the vicinity and a homemade pie is not within sight. Then I merely close my eyes and visualize a piece of pumpkin pie with whipped cream until the bowl of buds moves on. This technique, called "pie imaging," has carried me through many trying mid-meal moments.

During most of the year, my philosophy of life -- you can never have too much pie -- does not have much of a following. Most of the time, when you pick up a newspaper, you read that some expert is recommending that instead of eating dessert, you should suck a lemon.

But on Thanksgiving, the mood of America changes. The nation craves pies for dessert, even the lemon-suckers. On Thanksgiving, the goal of a pie in every oven suddenly seems within our reach. It is a great day for the nation, a day I feel as happy as a hog in slop.

I am blessed to be part of a family that holds pie-making in high regard. Whenever members of our clan gather around the table, there is much debate. Discussions rage over politics, sports, and plumbing and heating. But the fiercest battle is always fought over over who gets the last piece of pie.

And so, in the days leading up to our Thanksgiving gathering, the venerated crust-makers of the various branches of the family have been in deep discussion about the pie agenda.

It has been determined that there will be a mincemeat pie, made with mince imported from New England. There will be pumpkin pie, topped with whipping cream given by contented Midwestern cows. There will be a pecan pie, which will be considered too sweet by most family members born north of the Mason-Dixon line, but it will be devoured by the true Southerners.

The fourth pie at our Thanksgiving feast changes from year to year. One year it was sour cream and raisin, a loser. Another year it was apple, too bland. A few years ago my suggestion to make a pie out of sauerkraut, Baltimore's favorite fermented Thanksgiving vegetable, was laughed off the table.

This year the early favorite for the fourth pie spot appears to be coconut cream. Some people don't like coconut, which is one of the reasons I am lobbying for it. I figure if coconut cream pie does not have a wide appeal, then there is a good chance that there will be leftovers. The day after Thanksgiving, I want to be eating pie for breakfast.

Pub Date: 11/19/97

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