Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How To Eat Pie and Stay Thin

The question comes up a lot: How do you eat so much pie and stay so thin?

While I like to answer teasingly, "It's just fruit!" I made the mistake yesterday of reading the nutritional values printed on the side of a box for -- are you ready for this? -- a frozen, packaged Trader Joe's chicken pot pie. Not. Just. Fruit.Which brings me to answers to other questions I get asked: Yes, I do eat store-bought pies. Occasionally. And yes, I eat savory pies. Though not often. And after reading the label on this frozen chicken pot pie it’s likely I’ll be eating them even less often.

Calories: 360. Calories from fat: 200. Total fat grams: 22. And that’s only if you eat HALF of the miniature pie! Deterred by the statistics and determined to “stay thin” I willed myself to eat just half. But then it tasted good. Really good. It was warm and creamy. It had huge chunks of chicken breast. The gravy was spiced with sage. The pie tasted like Thanksgiving! It was a whole Thanksgiving meal in a tiny little pie tin! And aren’t you supposed to overeat on Thanksgiving?

Needless to say, I ate the entire thing. And then I felt exactly like I normally do after a Thanksgiving dinner. STUFFED! I was practically groaning in pain. My stomach was bulging and I felt heavy and lethargic, as if I’d just eaten, well, 400 calories and 44 grams of FAT!

And now the answer to “How do you eat so much pie and stay so thin?” It’s a simple equation, one that I wish more Americans could comprehend. It’s called EXERCISE. After my pot pie feast I went for an hour and a half-long hike up the mountain behind my house with Team Terrier and my heavy belly in tow.

But here's the thing -- I do this hike every day regardless of how much pie I eat. I hike because it feels good. Because I love being in nature. Because my two dogs – who are both Jack Russell terrier mixes, an exceptionally athletic breed -- need to go out and run at least four times a day. So if you want to eat as much pie as I do and not gain weight, get yourself a couple of crazy dogs, stick to the fruit pies, and above all do not depress yourself by reading the nutrition labels.

(NOTE: "Eat More Pie" refrigerator magnets, pictured above, sold at Mission Pie in San Francisco.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Birthday Card for Peter Schoenfeld

Dear Peter,
Happy 50th Birthday! I hope you are eating some birthday cake pie to celebrate your special day. I've been meaning to tell you how impressed I was with your very first pie. Thanks for sending the pictures. Your rhubarb pie looks delicious and your food photography shows great promise too. And while I admire your improvisation of using the iron skillet as a pie plate, you have made it easy for me to figure out a birthday present to get for the "man who has everything." A pie plate, of course!

I also wanted to tell you how flattered I was that your inspiration for this pie came from meeting Christine and me that weekend we were camping in the RV at the beach. It still amazes me how watching the dolphins surf in the waves that foggy morning and seeing our dogs romp together in the sand led to Christine inviting you back to the RV to join us for cherry pie and coffee. One really should be careful about letting strangers into their campers! But you showed such enthusiasm for the pie, and with the excitement, appetite, innocence -- and drool -- of a Golden Retriever puppy, how could we refuse you a slice?! You weren't even deterred by the fact it was gluten-free! And then we learned, as you politely removed stray cherry pits from your mouth (sorry about that!), that not only are you incredibly nice, you are a worldly, educated, funny, eligible bachelor who retired early and loves to cook Italian food. You are a philanthropist and educator, devoting your time to creating charter schools. AND you own a beach house up from the RV park. With a hot tub! If all that doesn't qualify you for a spot on "Millionaire Matchmaker," now we can add to the list "pie baker," guaranteed to cause women to swoon over you like a taller version of Justin Bieber.

My birthday wish for you is that you continue to have the good health and strength that you enjoy now so you can continue to do good things for others. Your contribution to the world is inspiring. You've picked education as your cause. Education is critical to the well-being of our youth and our society as a whole (as if I have to tell you!) You could as easily spend your stock options living on yacht like a playboy. Instead with Big Picture Learning you are setting an example for others of what early retirement can be. Should be.

And now that you've been bitten by the pie bug, I wonder where that will lead. Will we see pie baking classes added to the curriculum at the charter schools? Or will you be opening a pie shop somewhere on the California coast! Whatever you do, I hope the next 50 years will be as fulfilling as the first.

Happy Birthday, Peter!