May 22, 2002
American Pie

In the Nota Bene section of recommendations, today's National Review Online links to a Theodore Dalrymple piece on American cuisine in The New Statesman. Dalrymple is usually excellent -- I know him mostly from The New Criterion -- but seems misguided here. Richard Bennett has already objected to his aspersions on American pastry, and adduced the proverbial apple pie.

I would just add that Dalrymple needs to stay away from restaurant and (especially) grocery-store pies and find someone who can bake him a traditional mom's (or grandma's) apple pie made with

(a) a pastry cloth and a rolling pin sleeve,
(b) lard in the crust, and
(c) Jonathan apples in the filling.

For devout Jews, Muslims, or vegetarians, and when Jonathans are out of season (49 weeks of the year), you can make the pie with Crisco and Granny Smiths, but it won't be quite as good. And then there are 'Dr. Weevil's date tarts' (miniature pecan pies with dates in the filling), but that recipe will have to wait for a less busy evening. The point is that even I -- a mediocre cook at best -- can make delicious American pastries. You just won't find them in stores, since they are labor-intensive and do not keep well.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at May 22, 2002 11:47 PM