Tulee Main – Vinegar Pie

Vinegar Pie?

Doesn’t sound encouraging, does it?

No, it doesn’t but it: A) tastes great and B) has a real connection to Tyson County and Tulee Main. Read on.

The folks in Tyson County and the surrounding region were descendants of Scots-Irish and other British stock. They apparently brought with them a recipe (or a group of recipes) for a pie called ‘chess pie’. Not a cooking blog so let’s not worry too much about the details other than that it had cornmeal as one of its ingredients.

Somewhere along the line, the cornmeal got left out and flour replaced it. We’re still not all the way to vinegar pie but close, because at some further point a form of the pie which included lemon juice became popular in the Southern states.

Apparently among the poor – particularly with the constraints introduced by the turmoil of the War for Southern Independence – lemons became very scarce items indeed.

Enter Vinegar Pie. The inventive women of the time worked out a substitute in which vinegar (I’d guess that, for the most part it was apple cider vinegar) replaced the lemon and produced a pie not quite the same but very similar and very tasty. As I said – tastes great.

Vinegar pie may not be on a lot of the TV cooking shows but maybe it should be. I’ve found fond references to it throughout the traditional mid and deep South, in the states beyond the Mississippi and other places. According to several sources, Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House in the Big Woods, recalled eating it as a child. That was quite a while ago.

Looks like lots of people think it’s “their” traditional pie and I’m not arguing with any of them but this part of Tennessee is where I found it and I’m glad I did.

I was on a long, rambling trip across the great valley south of Tyson  County and headed up the winding highway over Clinch Mountain when a hungry moment struck me and I stopped at the Clinch Mountain Lookout and Restaurant. It’s on the other side of the great valley and as high on the mountain as it’s possible to get. Wonderful view, nice people (like most Southern people) and a terrific pie. Go to their site if you want to look around. (They even offer the “original” vinegar pie recipe in a small booklet they sell).

That does it for my foray into desserts today. I just thought it was worth taking a little time to do. Kept on going after dinner and wound up enjoying the hosts at the Cumberland Gap. Had a terrific day. Hope you do as well.

Comment at will.


(This post is intended to complement the narrative and views expressed in “The Passing of Tulee Main”. To learn more about the book, press the ‘Main Site Home Page’  link at the top of this post. (Beyond the on-site material there, the Nook, Kindle and Amazon links have sample chapters available to view.)

About Peter

Author of 'The Passing of Tulee Main'. Formerly active in retail, service and manufacturing industries. Now enjoying the beautiful Tennessee country side of Tulee's Tyson County home and writing.
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