Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Maybe we can fight over pies?

I can envision already the fight that’s going to occur next spring. There’s bound to be someone who gets all worked up over the state’s financial problems being ignored because our state legislators are quarrelling over the merits of pumpkin pie.


The dessert that’s supposed to be a part of every Thanksgiving Day meal (to the point where I wonder if anyone really eats it any other time of the year?) is going to be the focus of a bill now pending in the Illinois House of Representatives.


STATE REP. KEITH Sommer, R-Morton, says the bulk of canned pumpkin used to make many pies in this nation is produced in central Illinois. Hence, he wants the designation of the pumpkin pie as the Official State Pie of Illinois.


He told the Associated Press that it will promote the business interest of the Nestle plant in his legislative district, and is universal enough that the whole state ought to take pride in this fact!


Personally, I always thought some people took such designations too seriously. I don’t see that it makes much difference on any level that popcorn is the Official State Snack of Illinois.


Although discussing the merits of popcorn or pumpkins is bound to be easier than trying to figure out the intricacies of how the state needs to fund the pension programs in a way that won’t drive Illinois both bankrupt and financially destitute.


FOR WHAT IT’S worth, only one other state has an Official State Pie – Florida, which takes claim to giving us key lime pie.


But Maine has as its Official State Dessert blueberry pie, provided it is made with wild Maine blueberries – which happen to be the Official State Fruit. While Massachusetts has the Boston Cream pie as its Official State Dessert, while Vermont has apple pie and both Texas and Oklahoma claim pecan pie.


Is that the focus of the next interstate brawl?


For the record, Utah’s Official State Snack is Jell-O, but that’s a topic for another day’s commentary.


ALL THE TIME and effort that went into making such designations – couldn’t it have been used more productively? Then again, political people will always go for the trivial if it gives them potential to pontificate on a subject without putting anyone at risk.


I remember a couple of decades ago an actual political brawl at the Illinois Statehouse when a Springfield-based legislator tried to give recognition to chili (which is the Official State Dish of Texas). Only she used a local quirk in spelling it “chilli” (remember Dan Quayle’s “potatoe”?), which provoked a debate intense enough that you’d have thought life on Planet Earth as we know it was about to end.


But back to the pumpkin pie, which I have noticed seems to have an overrated rep when it comes to its edibility.


Personally, I don’t mind it. I’ll have an occasional piece (if I ate other fattening foods as infrequently as I do the pumpkin pie, I probably wouldn’t have the gut I have developed throughout the years).


ALTHOUGH I HAVE seen Thanksgiving celebrations where people acknowledge the presence of the pumpkin pie, then refuse to eat any of it. Too much of it gets thrown away uneaten.


Is that really what we want to honor?


I also stumbled across a story published last month by the Slate.com website that picked a dessert for each state, and said that Illinois’ state dessert, so to speak, is brownies – which originally were created for the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.


Although I can think of another potential brawl over an Official State Pie for Illinois. Let’s not forget that pizza is technically a “pie.” It might not be dessert, but we’d probably be better off if we laid back on the sweet stuff.


THERE CAN BE no more filling of a meal than a slice of stuffed pizza, particularly if you have a decent salad to go along with it.


Perhaps that’s the direction our officials ought to focus on in terms of making designations about what we eat.



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