Chess, anyone?

I never really learned how to play chess. It’s sort of an embarrassing confession for someone in a pleasantly nerdy family such as mine. I know there are kings and pawns, and I know you can move in different ways than in checkers. My daughter and my husband know how to play, and I think I need to add learning this game to my to-do list. My brain could use the challenge. I started thinking about the game as I baked today’s pie, Chocolate Chess Pie.

Why is it called “chess” pie anyway? I looked it up, and here’s what Wikipedia says:

“The pie seems to have no relation to the game of chess, which has led to much speculation as to the origin of this term. Some theorize that the name of the pie traces back to its ancestral England, where the dessert perhaps evolved from a similar cheese tart, in which the archaic “cheese” was used to describe pies of the same consistency even without that particular ingredient present in the recipe. In North Carolina and Old Salem Cookery, Elizabeth Hedgecock Sparks argues that the name derives from Chester. There is also a theory that the word “chess” pie comes from the piece of furniture that was common in the early South called a pie chest or pie safe. Chess pie may have been called chest pie at first, because it held up well in the pie chest. Another theory is that it was originally called “just pie” because it was so simple and plain, and slang or accent morphed it to “chess.””

Hey! We had a pie safe growing up. It was white with a tin front–had the little holes punched in the front (I’m guessing for proper ventilation). It stayed downstairs in our house and my Dad kept some of his stuff in it. I think that thing is still in Mom’s garage.

I tend to believe the last explanation. It’s “just pie.” If you say it just right, “just pie” quickly turns to “chess pie.” Even though that’s probably what happened, I do tend to disagree with the phrase “just pie.”

What do you mean, just pie?

I’ve baked 60 pies as of today, and I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as “just pie.” Each pie came with a challenge, a story, a process, a reward…and so much to think about. Just pie. No way.

This chocolate chess pie had sugar, cocoa, evaporated milk, vanilla, and eggs. It was simple to make, and I used a store-bought crust because I am pooped out from Halloween last night.

As I mixed the ingredients, I thought of my dear friend, Karen, who makes a mean chocolate pie. It’s her specialty, in my opinion.

I’ve known Karen since 1989. She’s known me for more birthdays than anybody I hang out with these days–except for my Mom and siblings. We’ve been college roommates (that’s how we met so long ago) matrons of honor, godparents, church staffers, party people, go-to-lunchers, listeners, call-when-you-can’t-tell-anyone-else-ers, consolers, celebrators, criers, helpers, tell-the-truthers, neighbors, laughers, sense-talkers, huggers, Virginians, come-to-the-hospital-right-now-ers, Georgians and so much more together. To say that we are “just friends” would be the same as saying “just pie.” I treasure the friendship we’ve built over the last 22 years, and I’m looking forward to being old ladies together. Thanks for everything, K.

Only 2 more days for being 39 years old. Gotta go….lots to do!




3 thoughts on “Chess, anyone?

  1. Ann Bryant says:

    I enjoy following your blog, and today’s was one of my favorites! And I GOTTA get your pie plate back to you!!! Would tomorrow evening work for you?

  2. Johann Reid says:

    Karen has been in the family so long that she could be one more of mine – except her Mom probably would not want to part with her!! At any rate, she is and will always be an excellent addition!!

  3. Karen says:

    Aww thanks! Oh my, we have been through a lot together, haven’t we?! Here’s to 22 more years of friendship and chocolate chess pie. Speaking of which, that pie looks amazing. More often than not the top of mine cracks or sinks… Still tastes good, though!

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