I didn't really appreciate the wonders of pie until I started making them myself. It's one of the most versatile categories of sweets. You can put just about anything into a pie: apples, blueberries, pecans, sweet potatoes, mincemeat.
(Well, I didn't say that what you put into the pie would always be good.)
I remember riding in the car with my mom as a kid and passing by street vendors staked out at stoplights, selling bean pies along our usual routes to wherever. We never partook of the pies, but I've always wondered what something that sounded so odd would taste like. Now that the 2009 holidays have faded from my home, leaving it pie-less for almost a month, it seemed like as good a time as any to track one down and give it a try.
After an exhaustive search of every local grocery store I frequent, I finally found one, in that familiar single-serve tin, at Straub's in Clayton. It was offered side-by-side with a similarly sized buttermilk pie, which automatically reminded me of my great aunt Lilly's chess pie. So I picked both up and got to tasting.
The bean pie didn't exactly knock my socks off, but it wasn't a disappointment, either. There was an awesome nutmeg smell when I first removed it from its little cellophane wrapper, and every bite of the pie was imbued with that spice. The dark, almost chocolately top gave way to a lighter, bean-colored filling. It was sweet, smooth and thick with a light, flaky crust; all in all, it reminded me of a headier pumpkin pie. Not bad for a lowly legume.
After looking at the ingredients on the buttermilk pie, I saw that it was quite similar to the chess pie my great aunt made all those years ago -- the only difference here was the addition of the buttermilk. This one I liked a bit more than the bean pie. The lightly sweet, buttery filling was like a cross between custard and cheesecake, a very nice combination.
It's good to shake things up a bit. I mean, I already know I love Dixie pie and sweet potato pie and key lime pie. Now, I know I don't need to turn down a slice of bean or buttermilk pie. What other pies are out there for me to discover? I wonder...Adrienne Jones is a writer, photographer and world-class eater who blogs at A Girl and Her Camera. She loves desserts and has been known to take to a frosting tub with little more than a spoon and a well-tuned sweet tooth. She will report on her latest favorite treat every other Friday.