One of the ongoing jokes/discussions I have with a friend down in southeast Minnesota is about pie for breakfast.
When I first mentioned the concept, which is native to my New England upbringing, she was like, “Whoa. Pie? Breakfast? I’m pretty sure pie is a dessert thing.” I suggested that this might come off as a bit hypocritical from someone whose native culture calls Jell-O with bits of things suspended in it a “salad.”
Our mutual friend, Paul B. clarified this perfectly legitimate and culturally appropriate custom of pie for breakfast like this (attributed to his father, who is from Connecticut):
In the U.K., a Yankee is a person from the U.S.
In the U.S., a Yankee is a person from the north
In the north, a Yankee is a person from New England
In New England, a Yankee is a person from Vermont, and
In Vermont, and Yankee is a person who eats apple pie with cheddar cheese for breakfast.
It’s true that the ultimate pie-for-breakfast is apple with cheddar cheese (I have seen recipes where the cheese is baked into the crust or shell–very suspicious). But, cherry pie with Gouda is, in my mind, perfectly acceptable–probably because that’s what I ate this morning. One should not feel guilty about pumpkin with Havarti, either. We are not overly dogmatic.
A wedge or two of cheese alongside or on top of your pie is definitely a plus and makes it traditional, but if you don’t happen to have any appropriate pairing for your slice, just go ahead and eat the pie.
The fruit pies are certainly the best for breakfast, but pecan seems like it could work in theory (notwithstanding the fact that pecans are a southern thing and therefore even more suspect than baking cheese into a pie–probably it was southerners who thought of such a thing).
That said, there are some pies that do NOT qualify as appropriate breakfast material any more than a custard or jelly-filled and frosted long john (or Bismarck, or whatever you call it) does. I’m talking about cream pies, pies with meringue toppings–”poofy” pies and glorified puddings-in-a-shell. Those are not breakfast, and you should indeed feel guilty if you treat them as such.
Otherwise, I invite all non-Yankees to
indulge take part in our perfectly legitimate custom of eating pie for breakfast with zero guilt and immense satisfaction. Unless you are a southerner, and then you should feel a slight sense of indignation that the Yankees put one over on you again.
***Full disclosure: This Yankee girl actually married a southerner last Saturday. His family’s great, and I’ll bet they eat pie for breakfast, too.