Last Wednesday, the UTM Department of Visual Studies Student Society celebrated National Pi Day on campus with its very own Pi Day events. The afternoon included an assortment of sumptuous offerings, including a pie-making workshop and guest lecture on the significance of the day. The events centred on dessert, but the day holds a double meaning for those celebrating it.
Structured as a luncheon picnic, students headed over to McLuhan Court with sleeves rolled up, eager to learn how to make their very own pie. With the gorgeous spring sun casting its rays over the picnic tables set up alongside the residences, the students were cheerful to get to work on their creations. DVSSS representatives, including Dorothea Hines, provided the tubs of dough, bowls of apple slices, bags of berries, and the containers of sugar and cinnamon. The delicious smell of pre-pie supplies fit beautifully with the weather. Sticky hands were the norm as students expressed their pie creativity.
Many students had not made a pie from scratch before, but quickly dug into the idea with eager fists, as they mashed and prodded the dough. The amateur bakers quickly realized that the thick dough was easily malleable and transported their delicious creations into circular pie tins. Many students signed their names and made markings to personalize their edible “canvases”.
Next was the most tantalizing part of the process: the tasty add-ons. Handfuls of apple wedges were thrown into the centre of each prebaked crust. With a dash of sugar here, some cinnamon on top, and a few berries for good measure, the pies were ready to face the fire. The key to pie-making: do not let your dough get too thick or it won’t cook, and do not have pieces of crust hanging off the edge of the container. This could be dangerous.
Approximately 3.14 minor oven fires later, the pies turned golden brown. The air was filled with intoxicating aromas, wafting through kitchen windows into the breezy spring air. All it took was a few baking guidelines from DVSSS to allow students to expand their creativity into a delicious new art form.
Pie-making was from 12 to 2 p.m. While the pies warmed in the oven, students took off to the Student Centre to participate in a special lecture on pie culture by professor Amish Morrell. Morrell is special lecturer in the Department of Visual Studies and the editor of C Magazine. He is a self-proclaimed expert pie-maker and uses his creativity as an artist to inform his baking. His secret to a good piecrust is having cold hands, cold utensils, and lots of butter.
His lecture was a fascinating and detailed history of pie-making, pie culture, and the uses of pie around the world, including eating contests and pie-throwing. Particularly engaging was his discussion of pisexuality, which included an accompanying video of people getting pied in the face. He lectured on the unique origins of many different pies, including humble pie, sinister pie, frugal pie, bride pie, mermaid pie, pestle pie, stargazy pie, lampry pie, prison pie, shoe-fly pie, and, of course, apple pie.
He also went into a bit of history, saying that the increase of potatoes in the United Kingdom actually led to a decrease in demand for pies.
There was plenty of demand among the students who were ready and excited to devour their pieces of art. As Morrell said, the apple pie holds a special place in North American culture, and by that same token, Pi Day will be a tasty memory for UTM students.