Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mmmmm....Apple Pie

“As American as Apple Pie!” How many times has that phrase been uttered over the years? But is it true? Well, yes and no. Not to upset the Founding Fathers, but Apple Pie, like most American customs and traditions, is European in origin. Indeed, pies were especially popular during the reign of Elizabeth I.

No one knows who ate the first slice, but pie in one form or another has existed since the ancient Egyptians made the first pastry-like crusts. The early Romans, who probably learned about it from the Greeks, probably made the first pies we would recognize as pies. The Roman, Cato the Censor, published the first written recipe: a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. The Romans then spread the word around Europe, including England.

Evan Jones, in American Food the Gastronomic Story, writes: Some social chroniclers seem convinced that fruit pies as Americans now view them originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Potters in the southeastern counties of that state were making pie plates in the early 18th century and cooks began to envelop in crispy crusts every fruit that grew I the region. “It may be,” Fredrick Klee asserts, “that during the revolution men from other colonies came to know this dish in Pennsylvania and carried this knowledge back home to establish pie as the great American dessert.”

Thus, Apple Pie, while not originally American, was “assimilated” and transformed into a distinctly American experience. If the food loving Pennsylvania Dutch didn’t invent pie, they certainly perfected it.