A Passion for Pies
Local librarian, author and blogger shares her fond knowledge about pastry.
Amy Alessio believes pies are rich – in history.
Much like fashion or cars - pies give you a peek into the past. At least that's what Alessio believes. She's a librarian by day and a pie connoisseur by night.
She threw a pie party at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton St., on Wednesday evening. Although her presentation included everything from fillings, crusts to even pie holidays, her expertise isn't just in baking pies – she's an expert on pie history.
"The cookbooks read like novels," Alessio said. "I was interested in the history and the picture of the life of these times."
Alessio's personal library is stocked with a collection of more than 350 vintage cookbooks from the 1940s through the 1980s. She says the cookbooks surprisingly tell a story of what was happening in the United States when the book was published.
She's quick to point out that "vintage" recipes don't always mesh with the modern day palate. Especially recipes published during wartime when families had to ration their food.
"You'd be hard pressed to find a recipe in a wartime cookbook that didn't include prunes or raisins," Allesio said. Both were used as a substitute for sugar, she said.
Dawn Reinke was one of the 30 people who attended the pie party. She said it was a trip down memory lane.
"I was a child during some of the periods she was talking about," Reinke said. "And I have some fond family memories of some of that stuff."
Rose Meccia said pies are a family tradition.
"Deserts in general were part of my history," Meccia said. "We had a pie for every holiday."
Alessio has managed to parlay her passion for pies into a very busy career. She is booked solid through December with six to eight speaking engagements every month. She also writes and manages a very popular pie blog.
On top of all that, Alessio is a published author of two short stories and a nationally known librarian who puts programs together for teens. She is also a host at a number of different food and craft seminars. For more information, visit her website at amyalessio.com.