rom the origins of “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” in the entremets entertainments of medieval banquets, to the iconic Christmas table as set with mincemeat pies by Charles Dickens, this particular foodstuff has a storied history and potent symbolism–especially in the British and American consciousness. This course will trace the development of this ancient foodstuff using Janet Clarkson’s Pie: A Global History, supplemented by other historical and cultural readings. Paired with this we will examine how the pie has been represented artistically, from the critique of “American as mom and apple pie” establishment culture in Gary Ross’s film film Pleasantville, to the cannibalism of the meat pies in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus as envisioned by Julie Taymor.
But primarily we will bake pies. Lots of pies: sweet and savory, all from scratch. We will learn the basics of making pastry crusts, filling preparation, assembly, decoration, baking and final presentation. Students will be expected to document their process—and the resulting pies—on a class blog. Recipes used will draw inspiration from history, novels, and film, culminating in a banquet of sweet and savory pies at which we will show off our baking prowess to friends and colleagues.