A Shelf For Prize Pies

Gabriella Gershenson

When it comes to the ritual of New England baked bean suppers, some would say that pie is as integral to the meal as brown bread, coleslaw, and, of course, beans. Last November, while reporting for my article Full Of Beans for Issue 145, I visited the United Methodist Church in Lisbon Falls, Maine for their monthly baked bean supper. I knew before arriving that I was in for a treat. One of the organizers, Margaret Logan, had told me that she recruited several bakers from within the congregation to make pies to serve for the evening's dessert. As the beans simmered away in the church's fluorescent-lit kitchen, local ladies (or their husbands) slowly streamed in, pies in hand. That night's flavors—lemon meringue, blueberry, caramel apple, and others—were written on a whiteboard in the dining room. Or, diners could see the pies for themselves on a shelf built by one member of the church specifically for the purpose of showcasing the plated slices. When I first caught sight of the pink-painted tiers loaded up with pieces of pie in shades of pistachio green, butterscotch gold, rhubarb rose, and lemon yellow, I thought the mise en scene was straight out of a Wayne Thiebaud painting. Just like that, a local ritual was elevated to high art.