Some of these food holidays are full of fluff, and today is no exception. August 15 is National Lemon Meringue Pie Day!
It is also Julia Childs’ birthday. She passed away in 2004, but would have been 101 today if she were still living. What an inspiration Julia was to many – both professional chefs and home cooks. Her passion for cooking was contagious. Even as a child, I enjoyed watching her build terrific-looking meals from scratch on TV. Julia was the inspiration for Julie & Julia, the blog and movie, which in turn were an inspiration for Eat My Words. It’s only fitting to mention her today as we honor her legacy in our own humble fashion.
Lemon meringue pie is recognizable as one of the tallest pies out there. It achieves its height thanks to that meringue topping consisting of whipped egg whites and sugar. If lemon meringue pie were a person it could never live in Beverly Hills, because it’s got no upper crust.
Get it? Upper crust? Yeaaah…moving right along…
Lemon-filled pies and pastries date back to Medieval times, but it’s unsure where meringue originated. Some claim it was invented in the Swiss village of Meiringen and perfected by an Italian chef named Gasparini, but this claim cannot be substantiated. The word first appeared in a cookbook written by François Massialot’s in 1692. Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, a pastry chef and teacher from Philadelphia, is credited with introducing the dessert to America in the 19th century, where it became a staple of her cooking classes. Recipes began appearing in cookbooks during the latter half of the century, including the 1882 edition of Marion Harland’s Common Sense in the Household: A Manual of Practical Housewifery. Gotta love the name. It’s not at all sexist!
The chemistry behind meringue is pretty interesting: when egg whites are beaten, their hydrogen bonds break, causing their proteins to unfold and stiffen. Cream of tartar (WARNING: THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS TARTAR SAUCE, YOU FISH STICK LOVERS!) helps the whites to form stiff peaks. Sugar is a necessary part of the process, so put away the Splenda – it won’t turn out at all splendid.
We didn’t feel like whipping it ourselves, nor did we want a whole pie – especially when we are hitting the road tomorrow for a last-minute trip to Nevada – so we got a slice of lemon meringue pie to go from Shari’s. We’ve stopped there several times for other pie challenges. It’s pretty having a pie place/casual dining restaurant so close by!
- 52 Pies A Year (homestylerevolution.com)
- Grandma Schuder’s Lemon Meringue Pie (bondhusfamilycookbook.wordpress.com)
- Lemons lemons lemons – I need to make Lemon Meringue Pie : ) (tammystarts.wordpress.com)