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Un-American Pie?

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In Nathan Heller’s article, “Pie,” he details how pie is un-American. He claims that “for decades now, this confection of fragile dough and chunky cooked fruit has been invading our dessert menus and national mythology, trying to persuade us of its honored standing among baked goods and the gods.” Heller quite evidently doesn’t think pie deserves the recognition that it gets. He expresses his opinion through the history of pie making, all the things he doesn’t like about pie, and how it’s viewed by Americans today. Heller may just be sharing his opinion, but, he is a hater.

One of his main points is that pie making didn’t even get its origin from America. It started in Egypt and Greece in the form of meat pies. They cooked meat in dough because it kept the meat moist. He compares the meat pies to “coffins” for food. However, Americans started the fad of putting fruit into the dough, thus creating a sugary, sweet, and scrumptious dessert. Who would put sugary goodness into a coffin? No one, that’s who. It’s because pies are not “coffins for food.” Pies are delicate works of art that take time and effort to perfect. Americans turned pie into something delicious, so who cares how people ate it hundreds of years ago?

Another point he conveys is how “our modern pie of piled fruit stewing in a shell of fragile dough is not an innovation but a replica of something primitive—piled meat entombed in hard crust—nudged in the vague direction of dessert.” He thinks Americans turning something not-so-fantastic into a food everyone enjoys isn’t innovative. How is it not innovative? Part of the American dream is to take mediocre ideas and reshape them into extraordinary ideas. Isn’t that what happened with the pie? Someone else used it for a run-of-the-mill meal and we transformed it into an enjoyable dessert. What is the problem with taking an idea and creating something that people love?

Heller also rants about all the things he hates about the pie. When describing a bad experience with a particular piece of pie he says, “The pie, because it is a pie, does not so much ‘slice’ as volcanically erupt under the pressure of the knife, oozing its livid fluid everywhere; your own piece, when it comes, is a miniature apocalypse of broken pastry parts and heat-blitzed fruit.” Almost every dessert that is in cake or pie form doesn’t stay in perfect pieces or have crumbs falling off of it. Dessert is messy; that’s just how it goes. Does it deserve a ranting essay about how much it sucks? No.

Heller concludes with this statement: “The lengths we've gone to in order to make a pre-medieval baking technique as toothsome as possible today are proof of American ingenuity and care.” This statement contradicts his entire article. He just spent two pages talking about how “un-American” and terrible pie is, yet now he declares Americans making pie proves ingenuity and care. He obviously needs to sort out a thorough opinion before writing. Plus, there is an easy fix to his problem, don’t eat pie! If he despises it so much, he needs to shut his pie-hole and let the rest of us enjoy it.





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