Oh rapture!! Today is National Pie Day. Well, not precisely. Really, it’s National Pi Day, in honor of the mathematical constant π (3/14, get it?) however, we pie people are not about to pass up this onomatopoetic opportunity to adore pie. This magnificent mash-up of two of humanity’s greatest achievements was obvious to the math geeks too, since pi day’s originator, Larry Shaw, physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium, designed the festivities to include marching around one of the Exploratorium’s circular rooms, and then…what else…consuming fruit pies! This started in 1988. The U.S. Congress voted it as a National Day in 2009, and more likely celebrated it by throwing pies at each other.
It’s a gorgeous spring day here in Southern California. A perfect day to make a pie – sunny and inspirational yet fresh and cool enough to help keep gluten in check for the perfect flaky crust. I made a pie last night, in anticipation of the day, because really there is no more ambrosial and fortifying breakfast than apple pie. This was a homey Apple Dumpling pie from Anne Dimmock’s little gem, Humble Pie. It has some family heirloom recipes, but really it’s a read-it-again-and-again “Ode to Pie” – the Zen of making pie crust, the politics of pie, state fair pie competitions, the kinship between pie and baseball, and (something every woman should know and practice) judging a man’s character according to his pie protocol. Her story about the mechanics who got her back on the road after a weekend breakdown and signaled with their deeply longing glances that no fee could equal the value of one of the two freshly baked family-destined pies waiting in the back seat confirms my own experience. There is no end to the all-round helpfulness and joyous brotherhood of mankind that a home-baked pie will provoke.
The American Pie Council has declared January 23 as the non-mathematical, wholly pie-devoted National Pie Day. Save that date for next year, and rejoice that there are several π/pie dates coming up in April and July. Vicious in-fighters that they are, scholars have competing theories of most-appropriate pi dates. All that could ever amuse and educate you on this subject is here – on the Real Pi Day website, which declares that Pi day “should not be tied to the grubby political vagaries that resulted in the Gregorian calendar’s accidents of number.” (ref. U.S. Congress, above). We pie enthusiasts aren’t going to quibble; we’ll eat pie on all of these candidate days, and April is so packed with pi/pie possibilities (the 16th, 26th, and 29th) that I’m going to go ahead and declare it National Pie Month. July offers Pi Approximation Day, held on July 22 since the fraction 22/7 is a common approximation of π. Pie thanks its kissin’ cousin Pi for all this bounty. We’ll pie-party on like an ancient Egyptian with a nut-and-honey galette, a Roman with his placenta, a Medieval Englishman dreaming of coffyns, traps, and pyes, and our 21st century PIES!
P.S. After more than 200 years in print, Encyclopedia Britannica will never again see another print edition. Just think, you’re like the guy on whose watch the pager became obsolete. Lucky you. Nevertheless, let us observe a moment of silence, please.