March A la Mode
Well Carnival was BIG fun, huh? However, once your head clears, this’ll remind you again and again about how special the whole month of March is, so don’t lose it. An extra hour of day light, TWFest, Saint Patrick’s, the first day of Spring and just the pure joy of being alive and above ground. And now, yes now, I’ll tell you about my favorite day of March: Pi (PIE) Day! The date is 3/14 and guess what happens? Weird folks like me make pies to share. Word up--- I don’t make pies for everyone--- I make one for home, one for work and one for the Usual Suspects at my favorite watering hole and eatery: Liuzza’s By The Track.
What kinds of pies and who are the Usual Suspects and where do I work? Whoa, whoa, one thing at a time. Let’s start with pi and what the heck that is.
The number π is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and is approximately equal to 3.141592653589...etc. It has been calculated to 100 billion decimals by someone who had nothing better to do and probably got paid to do it. It has been represented by the Greek letter "π" since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes Romanized as "pi"
Being an irrational number, π cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of any two integers (fractions such as 22/7 are commonly used to approximate π, but no fraction can be its exact value). Consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The life of pi. Pie as we know it. Innocuous, mysterious, implausible, irresistible and did you know that pi was invented so that you could measure the circumference of your pizza?
It’s also used in navigation for global positioning (GPS); signal processing and spectrum analysis (finding out what frequencies are in the wave you are using) uses pi since the fundamental period of a sine wave is 2*pi; solving problems for electrical applications; tracking population dynamics; studying the structure of the eye; understand the structure/function of DNA, designing pendulums for clocks, to calculate areas of the skin of an aircraft and for fitting felines for fedoras. (?) Blah, blah, blah.
I’m sure at this point you’d rather stop reading about π ’s and maybe go a little into the subject of tarts; well, hang on, big feller, this is a family column and we don’t play tarts on this page (see further on to the back pages for tarts). Right now we’re going to move along into PIES and like it.
As you know a pie is a round thingy with at least one crust that has been baked and has a filling; fruit; cream; meringue; pot. Pie. So the thing you have to ask is: what kind of pie should I make and do I feel lucky?
There’s a 1967 song by Jay & the Techniques: “Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie”--- is there such a pie? — I wouldn’t know if it’s conceivable to put all three of those ingredients into one pie. It’s beyond my comprehension and I doubt that it would taste all that fantablous; therefore, I’ll make one of each while singing along with that catchy ditty: a pumpkin pecan, a peach streusel and a latticed brandied apple pie. It will surprise everyone because not many people know that I can bake and I’ll be asking each one what the circumferences are since I won’t be making any pie (that) are square.
As for the rest of the information requested: my work takes up most of my life; writing for this esteemed magazine; co-owning a French Quarter cookbook shop AND two nights a week behind the bar at Café Maspero on Decatur Street.
Maspero’s is a world of its own, in fact, its own microcosm. Once you’re inside those swinging doors, you’re transported to another place in time where food comes hot from the kitchen in people size portions, beverages are reasonably priced and the staff is extremely down to earth. They’re busy enough to have a line out the door at times but you can bypass that and head right for the bar to eat and be chatted up. I first went there as a customer and liked it so much I requested a job there (and got one!) and for that I am thankful.
My living accommodations are in Faubourg St. John; it’s like a little town, in fact, it’s the greatest little town in the world. I don’t want you to move there because the rents are going up enough as it is. The neighborhood has everything that I need, especially Liuzza’s By The Track. Y’all know Liuzza’s from Jazz Fest because it is ground zero for before and after (and during) the Fest-ivities and all the knowledgeable Fest Heads meet there. I get to go all year long. Besides having terrific food and staff, they, watch Jeopardy at six, stay open for Saints games, the kitchen closes at seven and I can get home at a reasonable hour. Everyone should have a steady place to rest their elbows and tilt a few; Liuzza’s is a perfect fit for me and my gal. Also, there is a regular crew of comrades (at least twenty come to mind) both honest and true that while hours away while Jimmy the owner looks on fondly and the lovelies behind the bar keep the joint as orderly comfortable as possible under whatever circumstances that may prevail. I hope they all like my pies on 3/14!
My other favorite days of the year? The 32nd of May, The 3rd of September, the 12th of never, and 4/20. Guess why.