Where Do You Stand: Pie Or Cake?

By John J. Duncan Jr.

As my wife and I were driving on a recent Saturday to watch the basketball games of two of our grandsons, there was a discussion on the radio about whether people preferred pie or cake.

Vickie immediately said she preferred pie. I then said, “What about Litton’s strawberry cake?” Then she amended her choice, saying, “Litton’s strawberry cake and any kind of fruit pie.”

I don’t smoke or drink (alcohol) but I seem to like about everything else that’s bad for you. I like almost all junk food and don’t eat an especially healthy diet.

I don’t eat much candy, but it would be hard to find a dessert that I don’t like. All of the cakes at Litton’s are great, but the best is strawberry, and Italian Cream is a close second.

I spoke at a Cattleman’s Dinner in Madisonville several years ago, and they had served great steaks. I told them that the rest of my body wasn’t much to brag about, but that I was blessed with some of the greatest taste buds in this world.

I have a very strong ice cream taste bud, and you can satisfy me with the simple dessert of vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s chocolate syrup on it. And we have recently started pouring on Hershey’s caramel syrup.

I have always preferred Breyers ice cream, but Vickie has been extremely loyal to Blue Bell ever since it came to this area.

A few weeks ago, we discovered the frozen custard at Culver’s. I read that custard is a combination of milk, cream and pasteurized egg yolks, and that it is written into law that true custard has to be at least 1.4% egg. Whatever, it is very good.

I like almost all fruit pies and cobblers and like them best if heated with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.

I do not like so-called high-class restaurants where they give you just a tiny scoop of ice cream. In fact, I sometimes half-jokingly, half-seriously told out-of-town waiters and waitresses that I usually based my tip on the size of the ice cream on the pie. I got some very big scoops that way.

At Thanksgiving, or really anytime, I like pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, and pecan pie is good, too.

Years ago when I was a judge, Martha Phillips, the Criminal Court Clerk, twice made me coconut cakes, and a very nice older woman named Carmen (probably younger than I am now) made me caramel cakes. They were all great.

My mother, never wanting to waste anything, could take bananas that were about to go bad and make very good banana cakes. She and Vickie have both made me another dessert I love – warm, fluffy tapioca pudding (not cold and lumpy like in some hospitals).

I really miss Wright’s Cafeteria on Middlebrook Pike. I liked all their food, and I always saw a lot of friends there. Their coconut pie and banana pudding were both very good, but I almost always couldn’t resist their butterscotch pie, because I never found it anyplace else.

Knowing that I love the butterscotch taste, Sandy Richards, Zane’s mother-in-law, used her mother’s recipe and made a great butterscotch pie a few weeks ago.

A very unhealthy but wonderful dessert is to pour hot butterscotch pudding over vanilla ice cream.

Thinking of Wright’s, many years ago the late lawyer Jay Garrison asked me to play golf with him and Gary Sousa, who had just moved here from Connecticut to become the UT Band Director.

Director Sousa asked me what were some of my favorite restaurants, and I recommended Litton’s, Regas, and Wright’s Cafeteria,

With my East Tennessee accent and his Connecticut ear, he was very surprised to hear that there was a very popular place to eat called “Rat’s” Cafeteria.

I try every day to be more thankful, but I take too many blessings for granted, and the abundance of food we have in the U.S. is certainly one of our greatest blessings.