Bill Stancil: Fish gotta swim; birds gotta pie


Bill Stancil


By Bill Stancil
The Billboard

Friday, October 20, 2017

I remember reading a nursery rhyme about four and 20 blackbirds baked in a pie, and that got a big “YUCK” out of me. I also knew what a magpie bird is, but I had never heard of a “pie bird” until recently, when my daughter began telling us that she had found the cutest little “whatnots” and she was going to try to collect them, but she discovered that they are to be used when baking a pie.

“You actually bake them in the pie to let the steam out,” she told us. “I did not know that; I just thought they were so cute that I wanted to display them.”

“You can buy each one separately,” she explained. “I found one that is a nest with baby birds in it. I want to use it in baking a pie.”

“You are what?” I spoke up. “You are going to actually put those things in a pie that people are going to eat? Who does such a thing?”

“Daddy, a lot of cooks use them to bake pies,” she explained, “even people like Martha Stewart. I’m going to bake an apple pie with those birds in it. I’ll save you some of it.”

“Don’t waste a piece of bird pie on me,” I was thinking as she left. I also surmised that the heat of an oven might melt those things into the pie mix and ruin the pie. I just couldn’t see how a bird of any kind could help a pie, unless it was a quail or a turkey or other edible birds such as chicken.

Most of us are familiar with chicken, because chicken was the main Sunday dinner fixture for many families back in the day. Anyway, leading homemakers like Martha Stewart would not need a porcelain bird or any kind of porcelain animal to help her make a tasty pie.

I had to satisfy my curiosity, so when my daughter left, I went to the computer and looked up pie birds, just knowing that I would find nothing about them.

How wrong I was! There in a video was Martha Stewart in the kitchen just cooking away and touting the use of pie birds.

Well, I thought, I’ll check on my daughter and her use of pie birds at a later date to see if she had given up on the idea of using the birds. My daughter is good cook, but the use of pie birds was something new to her, and I hoped she would not be disappointed when her apple pie did not turn out right.

A day or two later, all of my doubts and anxieties were erased when she sent a text message with a photo of her apple pie with a nest and four baby birds with beaks opened to be fed by mama bird.

I took back every thought of failure that I had. The pie looked perfect and delicious.

In the nursery rhyme about the four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie, when the pie was opened the birds began to sing, and the question was asked, “Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?”

The piece of pie that was later delivered to us, thanks to my daughter’s pie birds and her cooking skills, was a dainty dish that sung a sweet song in my stomach, and it almost shouted, “GO PIE BIRDS!”