Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Pie vs. Cake: The Debate Rages On

by Rachel Levitt


Tags: Spirituality, mindful living, dessert, eating, food and drink, marriage, Salon.com,

PieWedding cake, birthday cake, “let them eat cake.” Cake is classy, elegant, and above all, traditional. But what about its oft-ignored dessert cousin, the pie? Salon.com writer Vincent Rossmeier argues that pie is in fact superior to cake; it is “the perfect dessert.”

“Pie is moist where cake is too often arid; it’s complex where cake is too often banal,”  he writes.“Pie offers me lasting contentment, whereas all cake can tender is a cloying sugar rush. In a subtle, supple flake of pie crust there is more of heaven than in all the world’s slabs of cake combined.”

It’s a tough call to make. Who wouldn’t enjoy an airy slice of coconut cream cake? Who could say no to a perfectly spicy carrot cake with sweet cream-cheese frosting? Then again, Rossmeier has history on his side. Pie stretches back to medieval and even Egyptian times, when it was considered food as well as decoration (releasing live birds out of baked goods was popular, apparently). The English brought pie over to the colonies, where it became the go-to dessert, served with nearly every meal.

It’s no secret that dessert carries a hefty cultural caché—when’s the last time a parent sent their naughty child to bed without the salad course? In pie, Rossmeier sees the means to suffuse that most revered of courses with deep social identity. "In America, pie is as regionalized as dialects, serving as a landmark of place and history,” he writes.

(Rossmeier is preparing for his wedding, and reveals that instead of cake, he and his beloved will be serving wedding pie. His soon-to-be wife is totally fine with that.)

Image by thebittenword.com, licensed under Creative Commons.