A Place For Pie? It’s a Mystery!
Situated on the Continental Divide, at just under 8,000 feet elevation on Route 60, Milemarker 56 is Pie Town, New Mexico. It’s a small town town of 186 souls according to the 2010 census. Here’s the mystery: why is it called Pie Town? Answer to the mystery: The town’s history began in the 1920s with a man named Clyde Norman, who, while stranded with a broken down vehicle, made the most of it. With not much else to do, he filed a mining claim, opened a general store, and since he loved to bake pies, began baking homemade pies for this little-known wide-spot-in-the-road town. You know the old saying, “If you build it they will come?” In this case, it was “If you bake them they will come.” And they did. Since that time, people come from miles around and even from out of state and across the country to taste these extraordinary pies. There are two cafes; the Pie Town Cafe and the Pie-O-Neer Cafe, both serving these delicious pies. There’s also a general store, a washateria, and a FREE campground in the Lester Jackson park and a handful of other services round about.
Why Is Pie Town Unique?
Here are some of the things that make this place unique: the location is isolated with the nearest town being Socorro, NM on the west, 83 miles away. The other towns “nearby” are Phoenix, Arizona, 290 miles to the east, and Albuquerque, NM 136 miles to the northeast by other routes. That’s an awful long trip to take for a slice of pie, but people do it. Not every now and then, but every day the place is crowded for lunch (they serve other foods too) but the main attraction is their pie, and one pie in particular. What’s so special about it? Read on….
Many Varieties But One Bonfide STAR
They have lots of pie varieties, but the one that they’re widely known for is the New Mexican Apple Pie. Now don’t you go thinkin’ it’s a regular ordinary apple pie. Those are good just about anywhere, but not exactly spectacular. No sireee! This Apple pie is made with…well, read it for yourself, ’cause they put it right out there on their website.
Here is the recipe for
New Mexican Apple Pie
For a 9 inch pie
6 cups peeled sliced apples
Granny Smith apples work great
I prefer a mix of Grannys and Fuji or Galas
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of sugar, white works fine but I prefer Turbinado
2 Tbls cinnamon
1/2 tsp of dried ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
2 oz of fresh lemon juice
2 oz of hot green chili
2 oz of pinon nuts (pine nuts)
egg wash 1 egg and 2 oz of water
2 Tbls of turbinado sugar
Mix all ingredients well in a bowl
and let them sit for 20 minutes to meld
fill the bottom crust and cover with a full top crust
poke the top crust with a fork to vent
brush with an egg wash
sprinkle the top with turbinado sugar
bake in a 375 degree oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours
turn the pie every 20 minutes to get an even
and look for thick bubbles of juices from the vent holes
I suggest a scoop of Vanilla ice cream
or whipped cream
share with good people and enjoy
Now I don’t know about you, but I never heard of such a thing as putting green chilis or pinon nuts into an apple pie…but now that it’s mentioned, hey! sounds like a good idea. Oh, and notice the recipe mentions “fill the bottom crust and cover with a full top crust.” Where’s the recipe for the crust??? AHA! I think we just found us another mystery! Without a good crust, pie just isn’t pie. This pie recipe was featured on The Food Network, spotlighted on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” with Duff Goldman, reported in the Smithsonian Magazine, and eaten and approved with Bill Geist on CBS Sunday Morning.
CBS Sunday Morning’s Bill Geist Eats Pie in Pie Town
Long Way From A Broken Down Vehicle
As you can see from the attention this pie recipe has garnered, Pie Town’s success has come a long way from a broken down vehicle, and a man who just wanted to bake pies. But it’s not too great a jump for someone who loves what he does, and Clyde Norman did that.
It Never Occurred To Him
What this shows is that even in the midst of nowhere, a good man with a will to succeed can do so, even with the greatest obstacles. Getting supplies to make these pies in the middle of a state of long miles, getting the word out with no advertising budget in the beginning, and just surviving until the business began to make a profit must have taken a great deal of guts and grit. But Clyde Norman, a man with a mission to make pies in the middle of New Mexico, succeeded in his quest, because it never occurred to him that he couldn’t.
These days the pies are baked by a lady, Kathy Knapp, who bought the place with her mother and determined to make a go of it. She loves the surroundings, the freedom of living in Pie Town, and she enjoys the travelers who stop in for pie on their journey.
Kathy Knapp Tells of Acquiring Pie Town’s Pie Business
Pie Town Pie Festival
Every year on the second Saturday of September, Pie Town has a Pie Festival organized and operated by the Pie Town Community Council. The festival includes a pie baking contest, games and races, music, food, arts and crafts, and plenty of glorious pie. Jackson Park in Pie Town is the place, and pie is the name!
If You’re Going….
Map Courtesy of Google Maps