Pies for Pavement: Bo Bennett’s Meadowview Apple PiePosted: October 11, 2013
Pies are great storytellers. So, as part of our Pies for Pavement Fundraiser, we have been asking area pie makers to tell us the stories behind their pies, like this regional apple pie from Bo’s “sacred cookbook.” (Want to know more about what this whole Pies for Pavement thing is about? Go here).
In many ways food and stories are inseparable. And in this region marked by the foothills of the Ozarks, the edges of the Ouachita Mountains, and the banks in the River Valley, we really like to make pies. And these pies don’t come out of nowhere. They’re often passed down from generation to generation, changing over time as each pie maker brings in their own ideas to the creation.
Bo Bennet of Little Rock—the owner of Garden Press and a founding member of CANAS (Center Arkansas New Agrarian Society will be making his Aunt Mary Penny’s Meadowview Apple Pie! Check out what he has to say about “ecstasy of baked goods.” You can buy Bo’s pie next week from the Russellville Community Market!
1.How did you learn to bake?
I learned to bake from my mother. She was an amazing baker, church renown even! She was a very technical baker, exact measurements, most observant of heat and time. I’m more of a “feeler” when it comes to cooking, I could never pull off her consistency.
2. Where did this particular recipe come from?
This recipe is originally from my Aunt Mary Penny. It’s listed among several pies that I am drawing inspiration from that are found in the Meadowview Missionary Baptist Church “Our Favorite” recipe book that was last published back in 2003. It’s my most sacred cook book and contains more cultural and historical recipes than any modern cookbook. Many of the old church ladies that contributed have gone to be with the Lord (including my dear Granny)
3. What’s your first memory of someone making pies/postres?
My recipe for this pie is tied in with the church I grew up in because this is my earliest recollection of the ecstasy of baked goods. I remember the monthly church potlucks where nearly HALF of the dishes brought to the fellowship hall were desserts. Being so small, the two folding tables full of sweets looked like something out of the scene in the movie Hook where the kids feast on imaginary food, except this was very real. Every church lady specialized in a recipe, my Aunt Mary would always bring a pie made with Apples that were out of her front yard from an old “Arkansas Green Apple” tree. Those apples were terrible to eat, but the baked they had the best texture and flavor, this is the culinary nature of heirloom apples.
4. Why did you choose this particular pie/postre?
Apple pie is my favorite pie for several reasons. Pie in general is the most utilitarian desert form. You make one pie and share it with everyone, it takes less ingredients to make a pie than a cake or other deserts. To make a real apple pie, you need fresh seasonal apples which are booming in Fall. Canned or spiced apples from previous seasons make for a good pie, but if you want that real apple texture, the fruit has to be fresh!
5. Why is pie making important to you?
I’m no baker, but I like to cook from my soul. I only make about two kinds of baked goods, my mother’s chocolate chip cookies ,and the pie’s from my church cookbook.
6. Are you teaching this skill to the next generation?
I don’t teach cooking in any formal way, but I like to think simply knowing and talking about the history and culture of traditional folkways can light a fire in an individual to recognize or seek out their own deep culinary culture. It is a fact that ALL of our ancestors had to eat something to produce our current generation, so what were they eating and why? how did they prepare it? and most importantly, how did it taste?