Stranger in a Strange Land


Things get so strange when you travel to unfamiliar parts of the country. Especially in the most rural areas. While American cities have to a certain extent become homogenized — with the same franchised restaurants and the same nationally distributed brands — rural parts of the country remain deliciously distinctive and, well, strange.

Witness the product picture above. I found myself having to take a leak on Highway 15 this afternoon on my way here, and I went into the convenience store attached to the gas station. The gas station, btw, had the unfamiliar name “Rutters,” which means “horny characters” to me, but around these parts means “gas.”

Feeling a bit peckish, I decided to have what we used to call in Texas, a “fried pie.” Sometimes these resemble turnovers, other times they’re configured like tiny pies, complete with miniature aluminum pie tins.

In this case, the latter pertained, but I was somewhat surprised to see the selection. In New York, we have lemon, and apple, and maybe Boston creme pie, but here the pies ran to blueberry and coconut and peach. OK. But then I spied in the back row a raisin pie, and it flipped me out. Who’d put raisins in a pie, I wondered out loud, as the hunters in camouflage fatigues congregated by the cash register turned to look at me curiously.

I purchased the raisin pie and took it out to the car to study it in privacy. Unwrapping it from its wax paper, I first discovered a top crust of medium brown perforated by four symmetrical holes.


I next took my pocketknife out and, like a shucker removing the top shell of an oyster, ran the knife around the rim of the pie and removed the top crust.

Inside were a score of bloated raisins in a sort of light-brown cornstarch gravy. I gingerly put my finger in and pulled out a raisin and ate it. Hmmm. Not bad!



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