Inaugural Pie Day
by Erin Z. Bass
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter weekend! My family has gathered in Cypremort Point, Louisiana, to celebrate the holiday for as long as I can remember. We boil crawfish on Good Friday and have a potluck lunch before hunting for eggs on Easter Sunday. This year, we started a new tradition of Pie Day. Said to have originated in France, Pie Day became popular in Louisiana as a way for Catholics to get around only being able to eat one meal on Good Friday. If you invite a bunch of people over and ask them to bring pie, then sit around visiting and eating a slice here and there, it turns into an eight-hour-long meal.
I’d never attended a Pie Day before but had heard about them in passing, as in “my family used to do that” or “they do that over in so and so town.” For me, Pie Day had taken on a kind of mystique sort of like Mobile’s secret Mardi Gras societies that require a special invitation, so I wasn’t going to miss this inaugural one. I have Virginia Willis and her Chess Pie recipe to thank for my sweet contribution (recipe after the photos) and my second cousins to thank for organizing what I hope will be an annual event in celebration of the perfect meal – pie.
The Pie Day spread ran the length of one long table and another small table off to the left.
Savory pies, from crawfish to potato, mingle with sweet ones.
Sweet pies included apple, pecan and my Chess Pie, on the left.
from “Bon Appetit, Y’all” by Virginia Willis
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 T white or yellow cornmeal
1 T all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon (I like to use a whole lemon for extra flavor)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 pie crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth. Add the sugar, cornmeal, flour and salt. Whisk well to combine. Add the butter, buttermilk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Whisk well to combine. Pour into pie shell. Bake until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. (Mine takes at least 40 minutes.) The pie may puff and crackle during baking, which is fine. It will settle as it cools. Remove to a rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.