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Pie Day hits sweet spot for employees

By Dawn Brazell | News Center | May 13, 2013


Pie Day

MUSC's Pie Day celebrates diversity, fellowship and well, simply, pie.


The discussion of MUSC’s Pie Day held May 6 came up in our weekly staff meeting. An announcement ran in our weekly campus newspaper “The Catalyst,” and a gourmand in the group was curious about attending.

The discussion went something like this: “What does it raise money for?”

“Nothing.” Dead silence. We work and cover news in a fast-paced academic-clinical environment where all actions have a purpose, if not a grandiose plan.

“Well, is it to raise awareness of something?”

“No.”

More silence, the gourmand in our group debating on what the angle to dropping by might be now with no pie in hand.

“Isn’t Pie Day usually celebrated on March 14?” came the next question as the discussion turned to Pi, the revered mathematical constant that is celebrated by millions of students and math-lovers on March 14, since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits in the decimal form of Pi.

Olive! Pie

Bonner brought Olive! Pie in honor of the birth of Olive Richard, daughter of a former employee who was invited to the event, which is why it has an exclamation in the name. The following is the recipe:

Ingredients

one yellow onion
two shallots
one bunch green onions (sauté the white part, reserve some green for later)
one tomato
Variety of pitted olives
pizza dough
feta cheese

capers and anchovies (optional)

Directions
1. Sauté first four ingredients in olive oil. Set aside.
2. Roll out two sets of Publix pizza dough. Flour an 11 x 17 baking pan and put down the first dough.  (If  you use a baking stone instead it will help to brown the bottom crust but it is not necessary.) Spread the onion/tomato mixture evenly onto it. Leave about an inch of uncovered dough around the edges.
3. Add a liberal amount of pitted olives of as many types as you can find. Chop some up pretty finely, leave big chunks of others. About 2 cups total, with as little liquid as possible.
4. Sprinkle on top 3 to 4 tablespoons of finely crumbled feta cheese and the green onion tops from earlier.
5. Now put the top crust over everything. Fold the edge of the lower crust over the top crust and press down with your fingers to make a seal. Brush the top with olive oil, then make several small cuts in the top with a knife for vents.
6. Cook at 450° degrees for about 25 minutes, until the top is brown.

Unable to resist a good mystery, we investigated how this tradition that has been going on for 11 years was baked up. It seems research specialist Michael Bonner in the Division of Rheumatology & Immunology got the idea from a friend who lives in St. Martinsville, LA.

“It's a very family-friendly event held outside under the oak trees,” he said. “They have their Pie Day on Good Friday every year, but that didn't work for us, since it's still in Lent and, maybe, Passover.”

Instead Bonner’s group decided to switch it to the first Friday after Easter, since Orthodox Easter and Passover have all ended. This year, it was moved to Monday in hopes that would allow other people to attend – people who had clinic on Friday, for example. Also, having it on Monday gives people the weekend to cook, he said.

The rules?

Well, there are none. There’s not even a sign-up sheet, although Bonner does remind pie makers that savory meat, cheese and vegetable pies are welcome too – that it’s not just a sweet event.

Every year Bonner gets asked why they don’t sell the pies or at least have a competition for the best. In an academic environment of smart, high-achieving faculty, staff and students, he has come to expect these questions.

Bonner knows what makes the event work, though.

“Well, the important thing here is the pie – that we all get to share in what everyone's brought. I just don't see how we can sell the pies, but still be able to eat them.”

Good point.

Plus, it’s a very relaxed event that just celebrates good, old-fashioned pie and something else that Bonner thinks is equally important – diversity.

“It's food and fellowship. A chance to get creative, see what you can get away with calling a ‘pie.’ All cultures have some sort of variation on a filling in a pastry shell, and the fact that we work in a multi-cultural environment really helps bring in a good variety.”

So the next question is what’s the future of Pie Day?

This year there were about 15 pies, including Bonner’s olive pie, so there were about 15 ‘true participants,’ and then those extras, such as my co-worker who may have wandered in for leftovers. What’s the rule about those who didn’t bring pie?

“Once the people who bring pie get all they want, I love to see other people come in and enjoy the pies, too. They're not getting something for nothing – they're helping clean up.”

Say what you will about Pie Day, you have to love Bonner’s carefree attitude.

Every year Bonner thinks that maybe Pie Day has run its course. But then people invariably ask when it’ll be, and he checks his calendar, and it gets scheduled. His one regret: That the celebration hasn’t spread much outside of rheumatology, though recently they have been sharing space with folks from endocrinology so he expects to rope some of them in next year.

After all, what’s not to like about pie?


Related Stories >>

Pie Day planned for May 6 (The Catalyst)



Resources >>

MUSC Division of Rheumatology and Immunology


 
 
 

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