Debunking pie is a piece of cake - Clay Wilson

Newsrooms, I am convinced, play host to some of the most interesting conversations on the planet.

I suppose that when you get a bunch of verbally oriented, often witty, sometimes literary-minded and ideally well-informed individuals together, it's only natural that the conversation should sparkle. Newsroom talk is often a fast-paced flow of mutually understood allusions, original ideas and clever wordplay.

Which is why I wasn't altogether abashed Monday when I found myself involved in a semi-earnest debate on the comparative merits of cake and pie.

I am notorious in our newsroom for my love of desserts n specifically, cake. The prominently displayed dessert case at a restaurant near the office is a temptation I can only resist on my best days.

Monday wasn't one of my best days. After my colleagues gave me a good-natured ribbing about the piece of cake I bought for breakfast, one of them said that a radio talk-show host recently unleashed a diatribe on pie's superiority to cake.

I took this quite personally and immediately set about refuting the host's points (none of which I had actually heard). So here, for the sake of both solidifying my own stance and preserving this wisdom for posterity, are some of my rebuttals:

Pie is complicated. Cake is pretty straightforward. I'm not thinking just in terms of ingredients or cooking techniques. I'm including the total package.

The meringue on a pie (assuming, purely for argument's sake, that all pies have meringue) can hide anything under its beautiful, all-sweetness-and-light peaks.

When one looks at a cake n even an iced one nhe can be pretty sure that underneath the icing is some sort of cakey substance.

The meringue on a pie, on the other hand, could just as easily conceal a shallow pan of beef stew as a lemon confection.

That's an outrageous example, I know, but it has a basis in fact.

I once tried to bake a strawberry cream pie. Not finding a recipe for that specific dessert, I used one for regular cream pie and added strawberry puree. Unfortunately, I forgot to add flour to compensate for the extra liquid.

The result was an almost-masterpiece with a beautiful, stiff-peaked meringue, a tasty crust n and a filling that would have been best consumed through a drinking straw.

I told my colleague that pies are like that. I compared a pie to the sultry blonde who lures a guy with her irresistible charm, only to leave him heartbroken in the end.

Cake, on the other hand, is like the less flashy but utterly dependable brunette who is always there to comfort a guy after the heartless blonde has torn his world apart.

One of my other co-workers listened to this entire conversation with a semi-amused look on his face n probably astounded that we had carried it so far. But, as readers may have discerned, I take this subject very seriously.

And while I generally believe that newsrooms are a place for free and open debate, on this subject, when around me, one should either sing the praises of cake or shut his pie-hole.

Clay Wilson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Wednesdays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or by e-mail at cwilson@henryherald.com.