This is such a cool little story.
A friend of mine who lives in Scotland just went to Amsterdam for the weekend. She was there for a romantic weekend with her husband and to do book research. (Makes sense to me.) She sent me this picture because, well, it reminded her of me. See the “Pie Cafe” listed at the bottom of the sign? The Dutch really have their priorities straight. She and her husband didn’t make it to the cafe, but they did have a couple of slices of “Dutch” apple pie later. She said it was nothing like she expected. She is from the U.S. and I suppose she had expected what we think of as Dutch Apple Pie. But this is what she said: “It seemed to have a thin shortbread-like crust with a warm, nutty flavour, and it had toasted almonds on top, which gave it a wonderful crunch. The really wonderful thing about it was all the textures. It had apples and sultanas, but I also got the impression there was a lot more going on than that! It was pleasantly firm, but not hard. So it was baked just right …We were just wide-eyed about it… so much that we ordered it again the next night.”
I love this story for a few reasons. It’s just another example of how we define any kind of pie or food, we often go deep into our memory banks and compare it to our first experience of it—just like my friend did. She was pleasantly surprised by this Dutch Apple pie in Amsterdam. And, when I think of Dutch Apple Pie, I immediately think of the Pennsylvania Germans or Dutch and assumed they created the pie. But it turns out that it really was the Dutch, who added cinnamon and lemon to the apple pie—as well as a lattice top—which is what makes it different from your basic American apple pie. Also, according to Wikipedia, raisins and icing are both sometimes added. To me, that sounds a lot like the mysterious French Apple Pie that Mrs. Rowe’s Country Buffet serves. We had a lot of conversations about that one—what makes it French? And so the pie mystery deepens.
This is one of the reasons I love writing about food. It speaks to all of us—and goes across many cultures. Often there are no hard answers as to who actually created a certain food or which culture introduced it.
This story speaks to me on so many levels. But here is the absolute coolest thing about it: when my friend saw the sign saying “Pie Café” she thought of me. I like that connection. Think of pie and think of me. Makes perfect sense.
Any more apple pie stories out there?