On the Table: Pie (Example)


From the Proprietor: A sure sign that you’re friends with someone is when you don’t mind if they make fun of you. The Captains Courageous and I were on a trip a while back and we decided over dinner to figure out what each person’s worst physical feature was. One had to sit and watch the other two examine him, debate, and conclude which feature a caricature artist would exploit–like G.W. Bush’s pointy ears and upper lip in political cartoons. Only in the company of good friends can you sit and feel loved even while you’re being ridiculed. I’ll post more on that later, because there’s a drawing of each of us with the bad features exaggerated, and seeing it just might brighten your day.

That brings me to today’s post. After a few days of really heavy thinking about really heavy issues, I’m going to post something Pete threw together. We’re going to try something new. Once a week, Pete will pose a question and each of the Rabbit Room contributors will post a short answer or thought. Think of it like that show The View, only not annoying and shallow.

So for an example Pete worked up the following, in which he posed a question and imagined how some of us might answer. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

What pie is best and how has the loving of that pie influenced your life, work, and weight? Should you correctly answer that Cheesecake is the greatest of all known pies, please explain why it isn’t called Cheese Pie.

andrew-peterson-thumb.gif The Proprietor – “Clearly the Greatest of Pies is that of the Pecan, the eating of which has made me a very well-rounded person…erm…that is to say…a person with a broad range of knowledge, experience and, well, pies.”

ron-block-thumb.gif Ron Block – “Clearly the most proper pie is the Key-Lime because the key is indwelling within us and only with a proper sloughing off of the old man’s nasty little meat pies can one ever come to the full realization of that which is indwelt within the nature of “I’ pie itself. (cont’d on page 394)”

evie-coates-thumb.gif Evie Coates – “oh, dear! there are just so many wonderful pies to choose from. how will i ever decide. how about this scrumptious rhubarb one that i just baked today, isn’t it beautiful to look at? let me take a picture. wait a minute is that my ‘shift’ key? oh, my! i seem to have baked it into the pie…and it is yuuummm. where’s my cigar.”

jonathan-rogers-thumb.gif Johnathan Rogers – “Pies? Feechies don’t know ’bout no pies. My mama baked what? That’s it, we’s about to tussle!”

curt-mcley-thumb.gif Curt McLey – “All these pies are so magnificently created that I feel the only way to determine any clear winner is to to examine them each closely and give each one a proper exegesis. The first pie on the table seems to be the Pumpkin and while it has certainly been a staple of pie culture since the earliest known pie-peoples began to make them, it has never been particularly savory in this reviewer’s estimation. Though it does have a most proper orangish color, its consistency cannot be fully appreciated due to its clear similarity to congealed oatmeal. Now this in and of itself would not be of any consequence were it not so obviously superior the to pie that follows it, the custard pie…”

eric-peters-thumb.gif Eric Peters – “!@%#, I didn’t know we had a test today.”


Pete Peterson is the author of the Revolutionary War adventure The Fiddler’s Gun and its sequel Fiddler’s Green. Among the many strange things he’s been in life are the following: U.S Marine air traffic controller, television editor, art teacher and boatwright at the Florida Sheriffs Boys Ranch, and progenitor of the mysterious Budge-Nuzzard. He lives in Nashville with his wife, Jennifer, where he's the Executive Director of the Rabbit Room and Managing Editor of Rabbit Room Press.


  1. Pete Peterson


    In case it isn’t clear, I made all those answers up just for chips and giggles.

    Here’s Randy’s answer: “Pie! Oh yeah, man. Yeah. I loooooove those things. You know, I was eating a pie once and I had this great idea for a song, but then the waitress came and said it was a black piano and… What was I talking about? Where’s my cell phone…

    …you guys ever eat pies? Man, I loooove those things”

  2. Brad

    I can’t believe we’re even discussing this… How can we bring division between us all? Each pie is unique and should be enjoyed as so. To single out a pie is to bring the other ones down. No pie is better than another.

  3. Randall Goodgame


    Pete, if I could find my phone, I’d call you and give you a tongue lashing.

    I spent my youth pining for Mrs. Smiths Pumpkin Pie, garnished with two scoops of Bryers Vanilla, heisted from my dad’s stash on the top shelf of the freezer. These days, Mrs. Smith has changed the recipe, and I have fallen for the texture and flavor of the mysterious gelatinous concoction that is Pecan Pie.

    Proprietor pal, are you particular about pecan pies? Pick ye purchased pies, perchance? Or did the years of homemade pecan pies potlucked to the parsonage prejudice your palate?

  4. Julie

    I completely disagree! Cheese “pie” is and will always be the very best. Its just a fact of life. (especially marble cheese cake with the perfect proportion of chocolate cheese cake mixed in with the regular, on top of a crunchy yet moist Oreo crust, and most essential of all, coated in hundreds of mini chocolate chips. Oh! I’m torturing myself!)

  5. Kevin Hames

    To further narrow the discussion to specific pies we know and love, I heartily recommend the Toasted Coconut Buttermilk pie available at Woody’s Smokehouse in Centerville, TX (just off I-45, on both the east and west sides of the freeway). Were I a writer I would wax poetic about the sublime combination of flavors, the firm-yet-not-gooey texture, the browned-to-perfection flaky crust, and the way one bite of this pie transports me from the here and now to a quiet place, summer afternoons by the lake with a gentle breeze blowing.

    But I’m not a writer, so you’ll just have to try it yourself. Woody’s has many other pies; all are good. Pretty good BBQ and jerky as well…

    And no, I don’t work for them! 😉

  6. lyndsay

    want. pie. now. you people are terrible. and you have all obviously never been to my mom’s house where she serves the world’s greatest peanut butter pie in the universe. if you’re ever in the area, let me know and i’ll help you get your hands (or lips) on some. mmmmm.

  7. Shawn

    Whenever you discuss this subject, just remember: “Pie r not squared, they are round”.

  8. Ron Block



    If only you could read Greek, you would understand that “macaroni pie” really means “chocolate pie.” Unfortunately, since you are unable to discern the true meaning of the text, I am right, and therefore better than other men, sinners.

  9. Evie Coates


    Dear Reader, Rabbit Room Resident Pete and I have been having a bit of a side discussion about the little matter of cheesecake. I thought it might be of use to the larger population to have access to our back-and-forths, just in case you’re similarly confused about the cheesecake vs. cheese pie issue. And please forgive my lower case typing — it’s a guilty pleasure of mine when I’m not addressing you fine folks on the interweb. It either begun when I first read e.e. cummings, sometime while in graphic design school, or simply at some point in time where I discovered that I like to defy convention — not sure which. And so I give you, in a fruit basket turnover of mixed caps,
    The Cheesecake Controversy….

    Evie: we all know that cheesecake is a CAKE. because it’s called cheeseCAKE. and it’s made in a springform CAKE pan. come on, this is rudimentary stuff.

    Pete: Cheese ‘cake’ is CLEARLY a pie! As proof I offer the fact that ‘cheesecake’ contains no CAKE! This is simply the culinary version of Jonah and the Whale. It’s a ‘big fish’ says Jonah and the Baptists said ‘Amen!” But wait a second, we all know that thing was a whale and just because Jonah wasn’t paying attention in biology class we’ve had to put up with 3000 years worth of Baptists claiming it must have been some early species of those creepy ‘channel-cat’ catfish that swallow divers and drive Volkswagens. Cake, my a**. (And yes, Baptists have been around since OT times making sure teenagers don’t dance or go to Kiss concerts.)

    Evie: i am currently shaking with laughter. but i am also shaking my head in disagreement, because you are wrong (at least about the cheesecake part, but we are in agreement about catfish and baptists). i need no proof, because… (email is mistakenly sent as result of evie’s violent shaking) …oops. i wasn’t done and “send” somehow got clicked upon. so now it looks like i’m just saying you’re wrong with no back-up. but as i said, i don’t need back-up. whoever named it “CAKE” was probably a really smart person in the arena of dessert-naming and had a reason for doing so. and it is too CAKE, just not the sort of conventional mouth-fluff CAKE we might be conditioned to deem as CAKE. and hey, it’s also CAKE-shaped. have you ever seen a pie-shaped cheeseCAKE?? uh, no. it’s just not possible. pies hold their fillings in with crusts, the veritable dams for their various fillings. but if you baked a cheeseCAKE in a pie tin, floppy madness. batter everywhere. i reeeeally think i’m right.

    Pete: Cheesecakes got crusts!

    Evie: if you’ve ever eaten cheesecake, which i’m guessing you have, maybe you’ll recall that
    a) the crust only comes, on a good day, one-fifth of the way up the side of the dessert, making it a crust “base,” not an actual crust-like-functioning crust, and
    2) the crust is made up of a sandy mix of graham cracker crumbs or gingersnaps (or chocolate cookies if you’re fancy like that), and any engineer worth his salt knows that, given the chance to stand on it’s own and safely contain a heavy batter of cream cheese, eggs and sugar, such a crust would most certainly buckle and break.
    you’re starting to think i’m right, aren’t you?

    Pete: I knew you were right in the first place. You didn’t expect that to stop me did you?
    (I am so hungry right now.)

    Evie: ummmmmm….this isn’t as fun as having to keep coming up with ways to convince you. being right is the pits.
    (the light strawberry yogurt i just had at lunch didn’t exactly quell my jonesing for cheesecake. and i don’t even like cheesecake that much…)

  10. Chris

    After extensive research (i.e. Googling cheesecake) I find that there may be a alternate theory pertaining to the cheesecake/pie discussion. After said extensive research, I find that cheesecake is most often written as one word. Could it be that it is deliberate, and that cheesecake is actually a descriptor of the type of filling of which the pie is? Could it actually, then, be a “Cheesecake Pie”, and somewhere in the history of pie naming, the title of pie was dropped off of the title of this specific dessert? Maybe it was too confusing a title, or possibly, just plain silly sounding.

  11. Mike

    Ron said:
    “If only you could read Greek, you would understand that “macaroni pie” really means “chocolate pie.” Unfortunately, since you are unable to discern the true meaning of the text, I am right, and therefore better than other men, sinners.”

    You’re right Ron, Pastitsio the Greek word for dark brown noodle and Pavlides the Greek word for Snickers Pie sound the same if said in a North Georgia dialect. My bad. My gift is not discernment; in that you are again correct. I am more bent toward the gift of consumption regardless of pie flavor.

  12. Mike

    “Some types of cheesecake are custard pie, rather than a true cake, which can lead a novice baker to cheesecake failure.”


    Throws a whole new monkey into the fray.

  13. Ron Block



    I’m feeling an incredible surge of intellectual and theological superiority to the faceless rabble of undiscerning pie gobblers. With such rapid achievement I will soon be the greatest in the kingdom.

  14. becky

    I’m thinking I shouldn’t be reading this discussion, because of my definite weakness in the area of pie (or cake, or whatever you want to call it).

    (Great timing with the comic relief. Thanks!)

  15. Nate

    I am NOT surprised that no one has mentioned Frito pie.

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Apple. Is no one here American?

    Or what about Wild Blackberry? (Wild Blackberrys have smaller seeds and are mucho bueno-er).

    Or what about “Jack” Shepherd Pie?

    Also I just want to insist (even though most people are doing a good job) that all pie types are referred to capitalized (see above). Pies are people too. And some pies I like better than some people.

  16. becky

    Also, in regard to the Great Cheesecake Debate, I would like to draw your attention to the Boston Cream Pie. It is really a cake. It has no crust, and is not made in a pie plate. If it is not going to be called a cake, it might more accurately be called a sandwich. Yet we call it a pie. Therefore, can we not consider cheesecake to be pie regardless of it’s name?

  17. whipple

    Are we not allowed to mention soufflees and quiches? Please, will the French forgive me for my horrid misspelling and my lack of accents and C’s with little tails on my keyboard.

    Working in a coffeeshop that sells sweets and pastries run amok has lent me a keen palate towards the more savory of the round, pie-ous items. Besides the aforementioned wonders of the French world, we need not forget mince pies, chicken pot pies, or my mom’s beef-and-cheddar pie.

    And somewhere, I seem to recall a culinary magnum opus for which I often long and yearn with tears and gnashing of hungry teeth. It was called, “Shoo-Fly Pie.”

  18. Andy Vandergriff

    i just want pie. i am not picky as to the species of said pie, just as long as it is served warm, with a hearty helping of Mayfield brand vanilla ice cream.

  19. Mike

    and cobblers, not the shoe making kind but the blackberry, peach, apple and even cantaloupe. Not one word about cantaloupe cobbler.

  20. Nate

    Canteloupe, eh?

    And quiche CAN be considered a pie IF you capitalize it. The burden is on you. You are the Pie Bearer.

    And who can we call the Lord of the Pies? Is it Jonathan with his Frito? Evie with her Cheesecake Pie? Is the true Lord of the Pies our lead poster? Or is he merely a Wise Wizard who believes in us to bear the Pie?

    Let us take care as to how we carry the Pie. To eat them all would seem like wisdom if it weren’t for the warning in my heart of succumbing to the power of Round-dor.

  21. Greg Sykes

    Perhaps we’ve all neglected humble pie, which seems to be the point of this particular exercise. Indeed, well-timed, Peterson brothers.

  22. Dave Fauth

    If you are from New York, “pie” means pizza as in a cheese pie or a pepperoni pie. The first time someone asked if I wanted to order a pie, I was thinking why would one order a pumpkin or apple pie. Little did I know they were talking a good greasy cheese pie.

  23. Charlotte

    Cheesecake!! Yum!!! I Have a feeling it’s not called “cheese pie” because the filling and crust aren’t really the same as a normal pie; the crust is really less significant than the filling…. it’s sort of like a topping almost… except it’s on the bottom. But also, when it’s baked, it really has more of an consistency of a cake. But either way… a cheesecake by any other name would taste as good! But all that aside- pie is amazing. Pumpkin pie is so holiday-ish, and pecan pie is wonderful. We always have one of each on Thanksgiving. But blueberry pie is great… I could go on and on…. I’ll stop now.

  24. becky

    What is it that defines a dish as a pie, instead of some other dessert? I was almost persuaded by Charlotte’s remarks. Perhaps it does have to do with the relative significance of crust to filling. But no, I think this argument breaks down when one considers the Pumpkin Pie. Like Cheesecake, the crust is secondary in volume and importance to the filling. And the consistency of Pumpkin is very much like the afformentioned Cheesecake. No, I am thrown back to the logic of the Boston Cream Pie.

    And, yet, I cannot quite think of cobbler as pie. Perhaps the distinction is the position of the crust in relation to the filling? Does pie need to have crust on the bottom? But this would exclude the beloved Shepherd’s Pie.

    This may be a puzzle too difficult for my feeble brain.

  25. Josh

    This reminds me of that stupid scene in Armagedon when Ben Affleck was giving that whole lame spill about animal crackers and going on and on about how “being able putting cheese on it is sort of the defining characteristic of what makes a cracker a cracker”… Not that any of the folks who’ve posted on this are lame or stupid, just reminds me of that for some reason.

  26. Tony Heringer

    Thanks for the post Peterson brothers. I love the idea and it will keep things light in the room amongst so many other heavy topics.

    Now, I know a lot of you folks are in the South and nobody mentioned moonpies? Shame!

    However, I’d go with Ron or Andrew on pies. Key Lime and my wife’s chocoloate pecan are co-winners for my favorite pie and I’d gladly eat both in one sitting. I’ve always preferred pies to cake and from time to time get pie instead of cake for my birthday. Pie’s rule the dessert world!

  27. becky

    Thank you, Tony, for bringing up the Moonpie. I too was shocked that none of the Southerners mentioned them. And they follow so well with my Boston Cream Pie logic, since they are really cookie sandwiches and not Pie. Although I have to say that at this point I am having trouble remembering the point of my own logic. That happens to me a lot.

  28. elijah

    The best pie in the whole entire world is any pie purchased from The Park Cafe (www.parkcafe.us), a delicious little eatery on the border of Glacier National Park in St. Mary, Montana. This past summer I worked in the park and spent many an evening sampling the more than twenty heavenly pies made by the cafe’s owner and master pie chef. I am proud to say I tried every variety.

    Some people climb mountains; I eat pie.

  29. Eric Peters

    !@%#, I didn’t know we had a test today. Since I am currently visiting my *home* Louisiana, and just consumed quite a few pounds of the boiled variety about an hour ago, I will offer to this forum the delicacy of crawfish pie… as in “Jambalaya, crawfish pie, filet gumbo. Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou”.

  30. evie coates

    Charlotte, I heard that, you’re coming in loud and clear. Thank you, sister, I appreciate your support. It’s an uphill battle we fight. Now friends, I have so many things to say about pie but if I start to say them all it might be sort of stuttery, so I am trying to compile them all succinctly and with care. Kindly stand by.

  31. Charlotte

    I’ll stand by you in this argument Evie! I even have another point… ready?… you could pick off all the crumbs/crust of a cheesecake and it would still stand there. Blueberry/ cherry/ apple pie- no way! That wouldn’t work… By the way… what is moon pie?

  32. Dan K

    Being from the Amish country I think it is a moral imperative that i re-affirm the heavyweight of dessert pies: Shoo Fly Pie.

    I think it’s brown sugar and molasses in a crust mostly. A friend of mine summed it up as pecan pie without the pecans.

  33. Peter B

    I’m more bothered by the fact that Eric said “!@%#” than by the general lack of pie-ty among this group.

    Oh man, the New York angle does bring a whole new dimension to this struggle. As one of Italian descent, I cannot deny the deliciosity and sheer utilitarianism of the blessed pizza pie, for it can be both entree and dessert (good ol’ apple crisp pizza), as well as having the ability to function as the central — nay, the only — course of any given meal.

    Seriously, next time you tour-ers come to Dallas, look me up and I’ll show you the best pizza this side of eternity.

    Of course, having married into the South, I can also appreciate the beauty of pecan pie. Even against the sheer magnitude of choices from our local Cheesecake (Pie?) Factory, the pecan remains undaunted.

    Great post, Artham.

  34. Chris R

    “Think of it like that show The View, only not annoying and shallow.”…. While not annoying, the “which pie is best” question may very well be a question that has been asked on The View.

  35. Allison

    Has no one mentioned that most amazing version of a chocolatey-chip pie in the entire world, otherwise known as Derby Pie?!

    My friend Jennifer introduced this to me way back in 2000. After a trip to a New City Cafe concert, I do believe. Though we didn’t get the pie there. She made the pie. From a recipe her friend from Kentucky gave her. And we ate it at Peter’s parents’ house. In all its delicious, gooey, goodness. At 2am.

    But you didn’t need to know that. Just the pie part is enough. C’mon, Derby Pie! It’s so good you can’t eat more than one slice or you’ll get sick!

    Who’s with me?!

  36. becky

    I looked up the history of pie on Wikipedia, and found some facinating stuff. For instance, early English pies were called “coffins” and “traps”. A Coffin had tall, straight pastry sides with sealed on floors and lids. A Trap was a pastry with no top.

    Also, Mark Twain loved pie. His favorite was Huckleberry (naturally). But when he visited England, he hated the pies there. Here is his recipe for “New English Pie”, which he sent back home in a letter:

    “To make this excellent breakfast dish, proceed as follows: Take a sufficiency of water and a sufficiency of flour, and construct a bullet-proof dough. Work this into the form of a disk, with the edges turned up some 3/4 of an inch. Toughen and kiln-dry a couple of days in a mild but unvarying temperature. Construct a cover for this redoubt in the same way and of the same material. Fill with stewed dried apples; aggravate with cloves, lemon peel, and slabs of citron; add 2 portions of New Orleans sugars, then solder on the lid and set in a safe place till it petrifies. Serve cold at breakfast and invite your enemy.”

  37. c.Lates

    there’s a place up here in louisville called ‘homemade ice cream and pie kitchen.’ yes, everything really is homemade. i’m slowly working my way through their pies. their pecan pie is superb. they also have a chocolate chip pecan pie that i have yet to try…maybe next time. their dutch apple and lemon meringue are high on the list as well (but each in their own unique way). oh, they also make a killer chess pie. i can’t believe no one’s mentioned chess yet. and yes to derby pie as well. never had it until i moved here. but in my defense, we don’t have derbies in florida.

  38. Aaron Roughton

    As a Frequent Pie-er at Village Inn, I can say with great authority and without any hesitation that French Silk Pie is the single mostest greatest pie.

    Of course, Shepherd’s Pie is the closest thing to Aaron-Chow I’ve ever found. I could eat it every day. It’s all the food groups in one dish.

    I’m not joking, in Austin there is a billboard on HWY 183 from Marie Calendars that says “Turn Drive Time Into Pie Time.” Uhh…What??

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