Want to attend an event that celebrates some of what America does best, but which is unlikely to attract those disruptive Tea Party activists? Let me suggest the Great American Pie Festival.
Not that there is anything wrong with having pie at a tea party. I love a nice cuppa with a slice of my favorite blueberry pie or chocolate cream pie - which I will discuss in luscious detail below. Come to think of it, maybe your average Tea Partier would not be so perpetually angry if someone would just hand him a hunk of pie. It’s neither easy nor polite to scream irrational arguments about death panels and immigration when your mouth is full of pie.
But I don’t expect to hear much about politics at this year’s festival, which will be held April 24 and 25 in Celebration, Fla., not far from Walt Disney World. That’s fine with me. I’m going just for the pie.
The event is organized by the American Pie Council and is sponsored by (who else?) Crisco. It features a Kids Creation Station, pie decorating, pie scaping (whatever that is), pie tin art, and - the real attraction for me - the Never Ending Pie Buffet. To prepare, I am planning not to eat for the next three weeks.
In nearby Kissimmee, scores of amateur, professional and commercial bakers will compete April 23-25 in the National Pie Championships, also sponsored by Crisco. This is serious pie for people who take pie seriously.
People like me, that is. I’m serious about the European Truffle Pie offered, for a few wonderful weeks each year, by the Village Inn chain of restaurants (including my local one in St. Augustine, Fla.) and its sister chain, Bakers Square. European Truffle is a chocolate cream pie with a chocolate crust and chocolate topping. It has its own fan page on Facebook and is a past NPC winner. This is how I found out about the pie festival.
My colleague Rebecca Pavese and I went on a pie hunt recently while on a business trip to San Jose, Calif. We had a few hours to spare before her flight, so we looked up a Bakers Square and set off across town in search of European Truffle or something equally good. Rebecca is not as much a chocolate fan as I am.
But when we reached the Bakers Square address we found another restaurant instead. The Bakers Square telephone number was disconnected. So was the number for the Bakers Square in nearby Milpitas. We gave up and had a pieless evening.
It turns out that the recession took its toll on Bakers Square, whose former corporate parent filed for bankruptcy in 2008. Most of its California restaurants were closed before the company was sold out of bankruptcy to a new corporate parent last year.
Bakers Square is usually one of the big winners at the National Pie Championships, so the loss of those California outlets is nothing short of a catastrophe for West Coast pie aficionados.
But they can still come to Florida for the Great American Pie Festival, which is open to all. Pie just might be the only thing Democrats and Republicans can discuss these days without anybody getting angry. So, while I’m going to the festival to get some of that pie, I also plan to enjoy the peace and quiet.