State of Mind

Royers Round Top

For this week’s photo challenge, Ben Huberman asks us to go a little deeper, to share a picture that reveals a particularly strong connection. I set off all metaphysical, thinking about empty seats: how our state of mind might alter how we interpret the scene.

Well, that’s as may be, but how often do we look at something and not see the blindingly obvious? If my fondness for this picture – not exactly one of my best – means anything at all, it’s that with me, it just don’t get no deeper than I likes me some pie. 

[I’ll pause while you admire my American accent.]

But what’s the big deal about the picture – and where’s the pie?

Good question. We ate the pie. And the best thing about this picture is that the sign still says ‘Open’.

We’d reached the focal point of our pilgrimage to Royers Cafe, in Round Top, Texas for some gourmet comfort food just as dusk was falling. The first time I’d been there I was struck by the fact that, somewhere deep inside their souls, half the bars in England aspire to be this pie shop.

As Round Top only has a tiny population of 77, the company publicity has to be more than a town crier. Not many could top their irresistible marketing catchphrases:

The more you spend the better it gets (how many premium brands would love to be able to say this, but can’t?)

and the subtle but effective

Eat Mo’ Pie

I’m lucky to have a craft bakery in my home town, but it doesn’t offer pies like these:

  • Troy’s Junkberry (black berries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches & apples)
  • Key Lime Chess (I get the key lime, but what’s the chess?)
  • Pie Sampler plate (pick any four slices of pie; ice cream is compulsory)

One really weird thing for a northern English girl to get her head round is that you can’t get savoury pies, such as the classic meat and potato, at Royers. You have to make do with something like steak or fish or southern fried chicken for your main meal. No accounting for taste!

Royers Cafe at Dusk

We had arrived on a mission as dusk was falling – to buy a Bob Pastorio’s Cherry Pie and take it to Mike and Jean Shoup who had kindly invited us to a house party for gardeners and rosarians. Now that was an evening to remember!

Pies may be in my blood, part of my birthright, but I’d like to think it dates back much further. The ancient philosophers knew all about simple pleasures. To quote one of many favourite passages from Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations:

When you would have a cordial for your spirits, think of the good qualities of some pies; this one’s capacity for providing sustenance, that one’s piquant sour cherry-ness, another’s generous filling, and so forth.

I may be paraphrasing a little…

Padre of Pies

20 Replies to “State of Mind”

      1. I was just there one time a few years back for a 5 day long training in Psychodrama…for attorneys. (More about that bizarre statement only on request.) Of course the facility at Festival Hill was amazing but we had to get out a bit also, and that cafe!!! Whew! and YUM!)

  1. If you are travelling the world in search of Pies you could do no better than to come to Queensland, Australia, and drive from Brisbane south towards the Gold Coast, and stop of at a little place called Yatala. Famous for pies. All kinds. Traditional and not so traditional. Meat pies with peas. Chicken, steak, with mushroom or without. Apple, pineapple… etc. Chips with gravy too. Yum….. how can you not be in a good state of mind when you’re eating delicious pies. 🙂

    1. I’m obviously just fantasising (after all, lunchtime is approaching) but I can’t decide between chicken and veg or perhaps pastie… followed by apricot…

    1. You’re right, there should. Thinking of the horns on Desperate Dan’s pies, I did see a car parked nearby with the skull and gold plated horns of a steer on the front, and an iguana and two flamingos on the bonnet. That would count as a dangerous weapon in England!

    1. Yep… lucky me! I have lots of favourite bits from Marcus Aurelius, though I did take some liberties with this one – it’s actually about the good qualities of your friends. I used to keep my (marked) copy on my desk at one stage – you can open it at almost any page and find a wise and gentle counsellor.

  2. Round Top is less than 2 hours east of where I am, which is Austin, but I’ve spent only one afternoon there. Several years go we went to see two of Shakespeare’s plays at Winedale:

    As for pies, you discovered that in the United States they’re almost always made with fruit rather than meat. As for chess pie, one dictionary suggests the name may be an alteration of chest. Even if that’s true, I have trouble seeing why a chess pie is any more of a chest than any other kind of pie.

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