Happy Pie and Pi Day

March 14, 2012

I've been planning for months to celebrate National Pie Day today—which happens to fall on Pi Day—by making floral pies. But with unseasonably warm temperatures near 80 degrees, I didn't want to bake. Plus it was a good excuse to visit a slice of Hoosier heaven in the city.

Or more like a sliver actually. Hoosier Mama Pie Company is pastry chef Paula Haney's tiny storefront on Chicago Avenue near Ashland—which opened three years ago today, coincidentally.

The Illinois Science Council lists bakeries and restaurants offering Pie and Pi Day specials today.

Hoosier Mama's jewelbox of a pastry case can only hold so many of the daily-changing seasonal pies so a tall rack behind the counter displays more, including the apple pie. “Apple pie is the only pie we do out of season," Paula once told me, "Otherwise I think we’d have a riot."

And they're not just sweet pies. We are a town that loves our legendary chicken pot pie. At Hoosier Mama today there was a colcannon pie, filled with kale and potatoes, the traditional Irish dish, for St. Patrick's Day on Saturday.

A collection of vintage pie tins decorate the walls up high. You can listen to the history of American pies "The Pie Must Go On: An American Pie Story" as told by my friend, the blue-ribbon award-winning pie queen Catherine Lambrecht, recorded by WBEZ's very own Chicago Amplified. It was in this talk that I learned that rose and orange waters were once common flavorings, until vanilla took over. My floral pies will have to wait for a cooler night, or perhaps Pi Approximation Day.