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.


Anonymous said...

I personally don't have anything against cake. But my mom is still scarred to this day by a mishap with a birthday cake. My mom was like 6 years old or so, and my grandmother invited all her friends over for a party. In those days, they only used real buttercream frosting, and the frosting went bad. So there's my grandma, trying to quickly scrape all of the frosting off before kids dig in. My mom was so embarrassed that she never wanted a b-day party again. And I mean Never.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

I don't have anything against cake. I just like pie better.

M said...

you can put me in the pie-camp as well! vastly superior.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

Yay! We get M! We get M!

AmazonRedhead said...

I think both sides of the conflict should attempt to buy my vote with delicious baked goods. My vote is a fucking valuable thing, and I'm not just gonna give it away for nothing.

Trixie said...

There is no question that pie is better. A well-made pie is not only delicious but an old-fashioned work of art. It uses the season's bounty. And it is healthier than cake.


Peach, apple, blueberry, cherry, lemon-meringue, strawberry-rhubarb, pumpkin ... I could go on and on and on and on and on .....

Greta said...

I contend that it is dependent upon one's purpose--that is, as the Mayor has elucidated herself, there are specific satisfying elements of both cake and pie. For instance,
cake satisfies a longing for richness, complexity, and moist yet finely-crumbed texture.

However, pie can soothe a need for fulfillment, simplicity, and bold filling between flaky crusts.

Therefore, the question is not which is better, cake or pie, but a question of what are one's desires? Cake is not pie, and vice versa--therefore, to argue for the superiority of one is to deny the essential qualities of the other. Instead, one must interrogate her or his own internal desires, and determine whether cake or pie would sate these desires best.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@amazonredhead: Come visit, bitch, and I will convince you.

@trixie: Exactly. And you can use up things that are maybe less than fresh. Like spotty apples and that Halloween pumpkin still sitting in the corner of your living room. Ahem...but I wouldn't know about that.

@greta: No, don't stop. Keep talking. :)

Anonymous said...

As someone who ate the good frosting off a disgusting, dry piece of cake today, I must wholeheartedly agree that pie is far superior to cake. Because I've never had to eat just part of a pie because the rest was nasty. I've done this with cake many times.

Anonymous said...

I'm just going to be the persnickety little bitch who insists on perfect, piping hot molten chocolate lava cake.


Or, you know, cheesecake.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@bgc: Very, very true.

@fitforafemme: Well, I was wondering when one of the cakesniffers would come for a visit.

peach said...

You know i love pie, but if a line has to be drawn...

1. Nothing beats fluffy.

2. There is a reason why pop culture does not recognize birthday pies or wedding pies.


The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@peach: Then you won't mind me eating this entire sweet potato pie with marshmallows aaaaall by myself.

peach said...

i hope you puke. =P

lalaland13 said...

I am on Team Pie. I love cake, but the frosting and all makes me feel like I'm diabetic. Cake can be delicious-and I kind of want some now, damnit-but pie does more with less. And it doesn't make me feel as bad. And the crust-ohhh. And this store down the street has this amazing apple pie-and the other day I had Butterfinger pie...and ohh. Yes. Team Pie for me.

I do adore a good cheesecake, though. Is it cake or pie? Or both, and therefore, neither?

Anonymous said...

Oh contraire, pie does indeed have the ability to be terrible.

Any food item does.

Pie loses half a point for tautological fallacy.

The Honorable Mayor of Bethville said...

@damagenoted: Ah, but it is my blog. Therefore, I award pie a billion points.

AmazonRedhead said...

Seeing as I am coming to visit, I assume you will be bribing me with pies both large and tiny?