Years ago when I found my great-great-grandmother's recipe for chess pie buried deep within her Bible, I knew this recipe must have a special significance. After all, it was the only recipe among such important documents as birth, marriage and death certificates.
Though the origin of chess pie and its name is unknown, some believe the pie originated as a cheese pie in England; others believe the name chess was derived from "It's just pie." We do know that chess pie is one of those Southern one-crust custard pies in the same family as a vinegar pie, a popular winter pie made when fruit was unavailable.
Chess pie is also known as corn meal pie since corn meal is the dominant thickening agent. The other ingredients are eggs, sugar and butter. A slice of sweet chess pie is traditionally consumed with coffee.
Lemon chess pie is perhaps the favorite variation of this pie, but finding any chess pie – made with corn meal – is difficult. However, baker Sylvia Ward makes lemon chess pies (Sylvia's Homemade Pies & Cakes; [email protected]; 704-394-1037). Ward says, "A lot of people will walk by the pies and read that pie as cheese pie – and ask me what a cheese pie is." Ward sells a variety of cakes, including pound, and pies including lemon chess ($11.95), pecan ($14.95) and apple ($15.25).
Ward has a stand at the Kings Drive Farmers Market. Her last day at the market will be Oct. 30, but she is taking orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas pies and cakes.
Looking for a food you can't find? Or do you know of other food items unique to the Q.C.? Whether it's regional foods or international, talk to me: [email protected] or 704-522-8334, extension 136.