FOR CENTURIES, New Mexico has nurtured people’s artistic souls. In this, our Art Capital of the Southwest issue, you’ll find stories about Ancestral makers, a century-old museum, and the contemporary movers who are holding up our state’s fine reputation. I love art. I could go on and on about it. But we recently heard a plaintive cry for New Mexico to begin respecting a different kind of art. A culinary art. The art of pie.
Lee Higbie, an Albuquerque resident, wrote to me about a seminar he attended with a talk by Kathy Knapp, owner of the Pie-O-Neer Cafe in Pie Town. As she spoke, he recalled a trip to Maine, where he was introduced to the concept of an official state dessert (in Maine’s case, blueberry pie).
Knowing that New Mexico already has an astonishing string of official state-somethings (tree, bird, insect, fossil, cookie, and five songs—to name but a few), Higbie voiced the obvious: “New Mexico, the only state we know of with a Pie Town, should have a state pie. Four states have state pies and another three have state desserts that are pies. It is a travesty that Pie Town cannot point to a state pie.”
Knapp loved the idea and volunteered her pick, a green-chile-and-piñon apple pie. When I mentioned it to my colleagues, something like a pie fight broke out. Pecans, the pride of the Mesilla Valley, got a lot of pastry love, along with, ahem, Frito pie. Georgia may well have a lock on the former; Texas the latter. (Don’t argue with me on that.) Besides heirloom apples, the Land of Enchantment boasts top-notch green chile and the best piñons on earth. Senior editor Gwyneth Doland gave Knapp’s recipe a try, along with her twist on it. (Directions for both at nmmag.us/StatePie.)
Doland’s artful baking drew plenty of “yums,” with her streusel-topped version earning a few more than Knapp’s. What do you think? Should we have a state pie? Which type deserves the title? Drop me a line. And, as Knapp likes to say:
In pie we crust,