In Pursuit of Pie | News
A little birdie told me that Kat Robinson of the Arkansas Times blog “Eat Arkansas” is planning a trip to sample the fare of Northeast Arkansas. Actually, it wasn’t a birdie. Robinson told me in an email. She also mentioned she was looking for the best cornbread, cheese dip and pie our area has to offer.
While I might be able to steer her in the right direction for some of the best dip in town (think Godsey’s), the pie challenge seems to be, well, a challenge.
Personally, I’ve always been a cake girl. Faced with choosing between chocolate layer cake and a chocolate cream pie, I will always opt for the cake, especially if it’s from Causbie’s in Kennett.
That’s not to say I don’t like pie. I do. My tastes, however, are a bit more eclectic. My all-time favorite pie is gooseberry. Good luck finding a can of that on the grocery store shelves these days!
I remember the first time I ate a slice of gooseberry pie. It was in Pacific, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis, at a little café called Ida’s. My family and I went there one Sunday for lunch. After the roasted chicken dinner (which my grandmother insisted on calling “broasted”) it was time for dessert. Reading through the paper menu I spotted “gooseberry.” Something about the name appealed to my nine-year-old heart. It sounded whimsical. I half expected it to honk when I cut into it.
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” My mother asked.
Of course, I was sure. Gooseberry pie it was!
I can still remember the first bite. It was tart. My mouth quickly twisted into a pucker. But, it was GOOD!
My grandmother told me she could make me an even better gooseberry pie. Challenge on.
My Grandmother Lawrence was an excellent cook. She taught me the secrets to making fried chicken and sky-high yeast rolls. I knew she would make a perfect gooseberry pie. It was just a matter of time.
Later that day my grandparents left St. Louis headed back to Pollard and I went on about my business in the neighborhood: playing cowboys with the boys and ignoring the girls who wanted to play with Barbies. Did I mention I was a bit of a tomboy?
A few weeks later we traveled to Arkansas to visit my mother and father’s families. While I don’t remember much about that particular trip to Batesville, the stop in Pollard will live in infamy (sorry, Mr. Roosevelt, Pearl Harbor was a bit before my time). My grandmother had waiting for me a beautiful gooseberry pie.
I’ll never forget the lattice top glistening with sugar and the juices oozing around the crust’s edges. Having had that one slice of Ida’s I thought surely I was a connoisseur, but I learned differently. My grandmother’s pie was not only tart, but had a gentle kiss of sweetness that curbed the acidity. One slice demanded a second. I had found my manna.
My grandmother died in 1992. It had been a couple of years since she had made a gooseberry pie. But the memory of that first piece will live with me forever, just like my grandmother.
Where’s your favorite place to get pie in Northeast Arkansas? And what’s your favorite flavor? Send me an email at email@example.com and we’ll share them on Your Region 8.
Photo provided by Wiki Commons.