Pie Is Fightin’ Words
“Respect the art of pie” wrote Susan Bright. I wonder what she’d think of the diner in Iowa City I read about in the paper that tosses pie in a blender and calls it a “pie shake.” No time to bake pie. No time to sit down and eat it properly with a cold glass of milk.
–Pascale le Draoulec, American Pie
Eighteen years I lived in that town. Eighteen years, and it takes some uppity woman from Santa Monica to tell me about pie shakes at the Hamburg Inn. An uppity woman on a pie quest to assimilate her French heritage and sort out her relationships. Who visits Iowa and fails to have pie, and then tosses off the Hamburg Inn as an example of the world going to hell in a handbasket, with no pie.
The Hamburg Inn is a motherfucking bastion of tradition. It is the hometown diner of Iowa City, and one does not waltz into a paragraph, insult someone’s hometown diner, and waltz out again with a twirl about “pie pace” and modern life. It’s just not done, particularly if one has not actually visited the diner in question. It is not a frantic juice-bar nutrient shake type of diner (though they do hurry you a bit on weekends, when there’s a line).
It’s like insulting someone’s Mom’s pie. Worse, for me, as my own mother’s pies are not particularly old-fashioned (Ms. le Draoulec writes 368 pages on pie, and not once does she mention the graham cracker crust!). Though I am embarassed to say that I’ve never actually had a pie shake at the Hamburg Inn, I have had drinks disappeared from my tab, probably before this woman bought her first-ever mixing bowl.
My culture’s sacraments have been carelessly mocked by an outsider, and I’m not sure what to do about it. Obviously, pie shakes will be on the agenda for Twinkletree. From there, I’ll play the xenophobic belligerence by ear; maybe rustle up a posse of disgruntled Writer’s Workshop dropouts. We’ll bake a pie to end all pies, and put it in a blender for democracy, and write poetry about it. We’ll take the publishers by storm (with meringue disguising our faces) and show them through slow force-feeding that the true meaning of “pie pace” can be felt even after the pie is chopped to bits.
Or we’ll have a pie shake, drive home, and fall asleep on the couch while our posse bellies digest.