Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 7, 2012

Great pie quest reveals life’s artistry

By Mike Hinkle

CNHI News Service

Let’s get off politics, disasters and crime for awhile and talk about something — wonderful. Let’s talk about pie.

I know the simple act of closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and visualizing your favorite pie works wonders in calming the agitated spirit. I also know it’s almost impossible to carry on a heated argument and think about pie at the same time.

One of the best ways to end a painful verbal altercation is for one of the combatants to say, “Hey, why don’t we get some pie?”

Sharing a piece of pie and a good cup of coffee is a surefire way to start rebuilding burned bridges. Add a generous dose of friendly conversation to a piece of pie and you have the beginnings of a strong relational cement that can grow into a lifelong friendship.

Baking pie is more than the simple operation of combining ingredients. Baking pie, and doing it right, is a metaphor for a well-lived life. Properly baked pie is also a metaphor for the progress of civilization from savagery to cooperation and hopefully, on to refinement.

For the last year, I’ve traveled across America exploring small town cafés and out-of-the-way eateries where the pie makers’ art is preserved and esteemed.

This journey led to cranberry bogs of Massachusetts and Wisconsin where the bitter cranberry is tamed by association with sweet apples to produce an aromatic pie filled with contradictions. On the outer fringes of Florida’s Everglades, I encountered pie makers who claim to have the original recipe for the legendary Key lime pie.

I followed the peach, apricot and cherry harvests through fertile orchards in California where I learned the right fruit, harvested at the right time, prepared the right way, embraced by the right crust can produce “The Holy Grail” of fresh fruit pie.

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