There was a diner that we would occasionally visit when I was a little girl. It was otherworldly. The fluorescent lights were bright and the restaurant was loud with the clanking of pots and pans, music on the jukebox and the chatter of the customers. I remember the waitresses with bouffants bustling about in their pink uniforms, the red, shiny vinyl booths and Formica tabletops, and the weathered men with worn baseball caps hunched over their coffee cups at the counter. What I remember the most, however, was the gleaming pie display case. It was vividly illuminated from the inside and the desserts were featured on constantly rotating, pristine white shelves, giving a 360 degree view of the tantalizing contents. This polished stainless-steel refrigerator was an absolute shrine to pie. It was truly memorable.
Glowing golden crusts were filled with glistening spiced chunks of apples. Cheerful yellow chess pies danced with plated slices of toasty-brown French coconut pie. Lipstick-red cherry pies spun round and round with sturdy slabs of encrusted purple-oozing blueberries. Lowly peach and blackberry cobblers gazed up from the bottom shelf. Boston cream pie seemed out of place, hanging about the middle. Tart lemon meringue flirted with Key lime. It was a spectacle.
They all beckoned, but undoubtedly for me, the king of pies was the chocolate meringue pie positioned at the top of the twisting, twirling tower of pie. It was love at first sight: a base of buttery, flaky pastry filled with rich, creamy chocolate pudding and topped with a pompadour of white meringue. Some folks like sweets, some folks like chocolate. The chocolate meringue pie is the best of both worlds. Try this on your sweetie for some down-home comfort.
Bon Appétit, Y’all!
Georgia-born, French-trained Chef Virginia Willis has cooked lapin Normandie with Julia Child in France, prepared lunch for President Clinton and harvested capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. A Southern food authority, she is the author of Bon Appétit, Y’all and Basic to Brilliant, Y’all, among others. Follow her continuing exploits at VirginiaWillis.com.