So Is It Pie Or Cake? Two Food Journalists Debate All Lincoln-Douglas Style

So you want a Lincoln-Douglas style debate over which "holds more essential social and emotional currency" — either pie or cake? Of course you do. At the recent Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, held annually at the University of Mississippi, two of the country's top food writers — Kat Kinsman of CNN Eatocracy and Kim Severson of The New York Times — stood behind custom-made podiums to make their arguments. Kinsman took pie, while Severson defended cake.

You can read all about it more on their respective websites. Here are some key nuggets:

Pro Pie

  • Unlike its gussied-up and admittedly lovely cousin, cake, the humble pie is born of economy and austerity — a testament to its makers' thriftiness, prowess and sensibility.
  • Pie rolling, first workshopped by the Pilgrims, was a way to consume perishables when flour was in short supply. Suddenly, berries and muscadines, nuts, sweet potatoes and stone fruit — not to mention cream and buttermilk from non-starving cows and lard from deliciously fatty fat fat pigs — became available to supplant those hardy and damnable apples in the settlers' diets.
  • Where cake is for celebration, pie is for affirmation. When a friend is about to embark upon an undertaking that might require some sustenance and fortitude, you might send along a hand pie for his or her journey — a substantial pocket filled with your best wishes in a way a cupcake never could. You roll that pie.
  • Pro Cake

    • Like family and church, cake is a pillar of Southern culture.
    • Cake names are euphemistic, as delicious as the cakes themselves. The hummingbird cake, the red velvet cake, the lady cake, the charlotte russe, the lemon cheese cake — which has not a drop of cheese in it.
    • Unlike a boxed-mix cake, which can be tarted up with frosting and frills and presented with a flourish of "Look at what I homemade for you!" — a woman who comes bearing a pie with a store-bought crust inevitably serves a little bit of self-shaming and apology on the side.