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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

As American as Apple Pie



As American as Apple Pie

I have been nominated to make a traditional American apple pie for an upcoming dinner some friends and I are planning for the holidays. I have never attempted an apple pie, in fact, I rarely, if ever, make any sort of dessert items. I have made cheesecake before but getting the sour cream necessary for this recipe seems all but impossible here in Spain. My first step was to search out recipes for apple pie on the internet.

There certainly is no shortage of different ways to make this dish. What I found curious is that many of them simply assume that you will be using a store-bought pie crust. I have never had a pre-made crust that tasted any better than cardboard, yet this seems to be the base from which many people construct this American classic. Is this because people are lazy, too short on time to make crust from scratch, or feel they are unable to make it from basic ingredients?

If you are too lazy to make it yourself I suggest that you take an even lazier approach and simply shovel raw sugar, apple slices, butter, and flour into your fat gob. It doesn’t get any easier than that. If you don’t have time then perhaps you need to streamline your life a bit to make room for some of the truly finer things in life, like eatable food. I suspect that most people shy away from making pie crust because they feel they can’t pull it off. This was probably my handicap until I finally gave it a try.

The thing is, cooking something a bit adventurous isn’t like rebuilding the engine of your car or rewiring your house. If you screw up your car repair or the rewiring job, you could actually put you and your loved ones in physical danger. These are also things that you don’t have to do very often so learning how to do them yourself may not seem like it is worth the effort. If you screw up a recipe you can just shovel the mistake into the trash and start over. All you have wasted is a bit of flour, butter, salt, and sugar. Mastering a few dishes in the kitchen is also something that is going to pay off for as long as you continue your career in eating. As I wrote in a previous essay, I am what you would call an eater. I eat things. I plan on eating things until things start eating me.

One thing that I can say about myself is that I’m not afraid to fail. If I were I’d never get anything done. My entire life seems to be built on a foundation of failures, failures which have been something a bit less than complete. They have been strong enough to bear the weight of the subsequent failures that I stack on top of them. A botched apple pie would seem like the equivalent to a Nobel Prize along side some of my more epic disappointments.

As it turns out, my very first attempt at this American staple didn’t turn out too badly. I used too much butter in the pie crust and the apples, but it tasted pretty good. The above photo testifies to my flat-mates opinion of my pie. As you can see, it is mostly gone and I made it less than 12 hours ago. As soon as I pull this off to my satisfaction I will post a recipe. Until then I will keep trying.

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