Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Let Them Eat the Dessert of Their Choosing
This afternoon, I skipped down to the farmer's market at Union Square on a mission that I am on frequently. The pursuit? That of a tiny pie.
What is a tiny pie, you ask? Well, it is a pie that is tiny. If you don't look closely, you might even think it's a muffin and walk right past it. But, no, it is a pie. A teeny-tiny, perfect little pie. I would probably swim through a tank full of large minnows to get a tiny pie. But that is because I enjoy pie very much. With the exception of banana cream, I cannot think of a type of pie I don't enjoy. (Put a bag over it's head, and I'll probably eat it anyway.) I even like mincemeat pie with actual meat in it. MEATY!
But we're not here to talk about pie. At least we're not here to talk about JUST pie. We're here to discuss one of the greatest debates that the world has ever known:
Which is better? Pie or cake?
Every time I mention the fact that I just enjoyed a tiny pie, people feel the need to tell me which side of the debate they are on. For instance:
The Mayor of Bethville: I just ate the most delicious pie.
Person: How dare you speak those words to me? Cake is clearly better, or my name isn't Hitler Von Stalincake.
And then we duel to the death, and I win because pie is better.
But let's rewind so that I can tell you that I do love cake. It's not like I sit around and wish ill will upon cake or those who love it best. I love it. I really do. I'm just very picky about it. Because here's the thing...
Cake has the ability to be terrible; pie does not. If it's a little bit dry, if the frosting is gross, if someone tried to swap the sugar for Splenda....well, that's a shame because I'm not going to eat it. Pie, on the other hand, is very rarely inedible. So, while I love cake a good deal, pie is what I prefer. I will explain further by using an elaborate and unnecessary metaphor.
Consider, if you will, that I am torn between two lovers. One who is very rich and is well versed in how to pleasure a woman. He buys me things. He takes me on vacations. And yet, I feel in a way that to him I am just another woman to be pleasured. And one day, during a very passionate moment, he hoses me down with whipped cream and attempts to lick it off without even asking me if that is something I am interested in doing. In short, he is fun and exciting, but he and I do not have a long-term connection.
But there is another lover who is maybe a bit scruffier. He has simple tastes but is interesting and nice. Maybe he isn't the fanciest man out there. He comes in a tiny pie tin that is covered with Saran wrap, not a fancy cupcake box tied up with string. And yet, it is scruffy man that I can trust. It is pie that I crave more often.
Pie is a stable food. There is reassurance in its crust, that whatever you find inside will probably taste good. It's really, really hard to screw up the filling of a pie. It's fruit. It's sugar. Pie can be as ugly as a mud puddle and still be delicious.
But with cake, you start throwing in leavening agents and layers. You have one baker who gets a little hasty with the mixing, and whammo! Disaster. Like my pretend wealthy lover, cake thrives on its prettiness. A flat cake is not pretty.
And don't even get me started on frosting. Frosting is a fine art. Whether you use cream cheese, butter, or shortening as a base, you are obligated to make sure that the deliciousness of that frosting matches the deliciousness of that cake. And alternately, that cake had better be as good as the frosting. I cannot tell you how many times I have taken a bite of a delicious-looking cake only to discover that some asshole frosted it with whipped topping. Or worse, left it uncovered, so that it dried out.
Pie has no such drama to speak of.
I suppose we could spend hours debating which is better. We could bring in diplomats from Cookie Town, Candyburg, and Puddington to share their opinions as well. And even one of those people who insists that he or she doesn't like sweets. But I suppose that it's best for now to continue to live at peace with the cake eaters. More pie for us that way.