One Month At A Time

One Month book club

New month-long projects come with new research, though what that means changes from month to month.

There was some reading with last month’s CrossFit project, but not a lot. Access to reading material was limited, so I settled for making trips to different locations and looking at whatever I could online.

But some months, there’s quite a bit of reading, which is maybe worth sharing.

February is pie month. I’ll be spending a lot of time learning about pies, digging into the culture and trying my hand at making them.

Not too surprising, I have a bunch of pie books, which I’ve been devouring as quickly as I can.

I burned through “Pie: a Global History” over the weekend by Janet Clarkson. It’s part of the “Edible Series,” a series of book devoted to food and drink, exploring culture and history of specific dishes or foods.

Beyond “Pie: A Global History,” there are books on pancakes, pizza, hotdogs, gin and doughnuts, just to name a few. There’s a huge collection and I’m kind of interested in checking a few of them out.

What I enjoyed about “Pie: A Global History” was that it took a commonplace item and illuminated it in a way I’d have never considered. While I’ve sometimes wondered about where specific kinds of pie have come from, how the recipes came to be, it never really occurred to me that there might have been a time without pie.

It was one of those things I didn’t imagine never not existing, but the book explained why pie exists, where pie making flourished and where it didn’t. I learned about very big differences in pie philosophy –and some of it was kind of mind-blowing.

For example, pies really only caught on in places where there was a certain kind of wheat, but the wheat couldn’t be too plentiful. It also only caught on where the local cuisine featured pig lard or butter, basically solid fats.

That’s why you don’t read much about pie from Saharan Africa or most of Asia. It’s too hot and/or wheat isn’t the primary grain.

There are a couple of loose, history-based recipes in the back of the book for the adventurous or for history nuts.

I’ll leave that to better bakers than me.