Monday, March 11, 2019

Mathematics, LEGO, and a Pie Parade #FoodieReads


How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics by Eugenia Cheng* has been on my bookshelf for years. I picked it up once, got distracted, and back it went. But, this past weekend, I dove into it and really enjoyed it. I needed a change of pace from novels that have been decent, but not fantastic. And non-fiction is always my default genre.


Cheng has a great editorial voice that makes a subject from which many people cringe seem much more accessible and even - gasp! - fun and funny.

She tackles the topic of  abstraction, as a blueprint for pie. She writes, "Cottage pie, shepherd's pie, and fisherman's pie are all more or less the same - the only difference is the filling that is sitting underneath the mashed potato topping. Fruit crisp is also very similar - you don't need a different recipe for different types of crisp, you just need to know how to make the topping. Then you put the fruit of your choice in a dish, add the topping, and bake it" (pg. 16).

She explains measurements in the context of relationships. "How big is a cup? Measuring with cups is less accurate than weighing on a digital scale, and then there's the issue of official cup sizes being different in different countries. But it's quite clever because as long as it's all in cups it doesn't matter how big the cup is - you just have to use the same cup for each ingredient" (pg. 183).


And because I already had LEGO on the brain from my Deconstructed Banana Mousse Pies for this month's Food'N'Flix, I really enjoyed her discussion of those little plastic blocks! 

Cheng wrote: "When you sit down with a pile of Lego bricks, you have two things: a pile of objects, and some way of sticking them together. The great genius of Lego (or perhaps I should say one aspect of its great genius) is that it is so simple yet has so many possibilities. ...Math works like Lego. You start with some basic building blocks and some ways of sticking them together, and then you see what you can build. But there are two ways round you can do this: you can start with the bricks and see what you can build, or you can start with something you want to build, and see what bricks you'll need in order to build it" (pg. 118).

One year the boys made me a little LEGO, flower-topped cake for my birthday. I love how creative they get with those things. I am LEGO-challenged. I wonder if they'll remember the process they took - idea first or bricks first?


Well, for this post, I didn't actually make any new pies. But, in honor of Pi Day, in a couple of days, and this book, I'm hosting a pie parade - with previous pies that we have loved. Enjoy!

The Pie Parade
Every single time I get ready to write about pies, I recall this conversation from many years ago when we were discussing: What makes a pie a pie? It makes me laugh!

Sensibly, my Precise Kitchen Elf said, "A pie has no frosting." True.

My Love declared, "It's the crust." Okay.

And my sweet, Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf asserted, "A pie has a crust...and is low to the ground." Huh. "You know, a cake can be tall; a pie is short."

Employing all three of those criteria - no frosting, a crust, and low to the ground - a galette, a tart, and more can qualify as a pie. But I'm sticking it mostly traditional for this round-up. 

On the fruity pie front, this is a Peaches and Cream Tart and a Foraged Huckleberry Pie that were both posted for my first time participating in the Pieathalon.


For the chocolate lovers out there, here's a {Gluten-Free} Matcha-Chocolate Pie and our Chocolate Silk Pie.


For an added kick of booze or caffeine, how about D's Espresso-Pecan Pie or my Bourbon Chocolate Chess Pie.


But my two favorites are always going to be a Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie and a Rhubarb Pie, not a strawberry rhubarb, just plain, tart, delicious rhubarb!


What's your pie of choice?

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Here's what everyone else read in March 2019: here.

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