Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finding Pie Town

Finding Pie Town

About fifteen years ago when we were dreaming of moving to New Mexico from North Carolina, my husband and I were traveling through the southwestern part of the United States. Along one of our travels, from Albuquerque to Phoenix, we stopped in a little settlement known as Pie Town. I remember thinking what a quaint and funny name of a town. As we drove through Pie Town, we noticed a small restaurant and decided to stop and, with a name like Pie Town, have some pie. Imagine our surprise when we are told there is no pie. “No pie in Pie Town?” I thought and that notion stayed with me.

People have often asked how I get an idea for a story, what interests me, how do I start. And the answer is something like the situation of finding no pie in Pie Town. I began to think about how often names of places or ascribed roles for people lend others to make assumptions. We assume a small town will be welcoming and easy for newcomers to integrate. We assume a church will be a safe place, a loving and warm place. We assume mothers will be present for their children and children won’t die. Once you think about it, life is rarely what we expect. People behave in ways we never could have guessed and life is certainly full of surprises.

Having served as a pastor of several churches, I am often intrigued by what church members think about themselves. Most people in church will proudly announce about themselves that they are a “loving” place, a “welcoming and hospitable” place. And yet, in my experience, this is not always the case. Yes, churches can be quite welcoming and hospitable to the longtime members, the families that are connected to the area, the children who grew up in the church. But for newcomers, churches can often feel alienating and cold. As communities, as churches, as towns, as people, we are often not what we appear and we are not always as good as we think we are. It was this notion of irony that interested me when I began this story.

Now, many years after my first visit to Pie Town, I have discovered that there is a place that serves pie. The Pie-O-Neer CafĂ© has been open for more than ten years and has become quite successful. The owner, Kathy Knapp has found a great place for herself in Pie Town and I’m happy to include a recipe from the Pie-O-Neer with a few other regional recipes at the end of the book. I hope you will enjoy! And if you’re in the neighborhood of Pie Town, New Mexico, please stop by and have a slice. Tell them I sent you!

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