There are three kinds of people in the world, Kate McDermott will tell you: pie-makers, pie-eaters, and pie-seekers. The epic pie odyssey of New Yorker writer Sue Hubbell 20 years ago concluded that you could not get pie west of Oklahoma; you got cobbler. But that was in 1989. There's another argument: there are pie people and there are cake people, a distinction that eluded me completely, since I didn't consider myself either one, or didn't until I watched McDermott bake her peach pie. After all, people have been making pie since the dawn of civiliization (or since the advent of milled grain, at any rate), and McDermott's mission these days (she used to be a musician) is to teach the mechanics (as well as the art) of pie-making to whoever comes through the door.
Begin, she insists, with King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour. "I want wheat growers to take this class," she says, "so they can see what a difference the right flour makes." Irish butter, foil-wrapped Kerrygold, with high fat content. Leaf lard; she gets hers shipped from Pennsylvania. Regular supermarket sugar, a touch of seasoning (salt, nutmeg), some thickener so you don't get fruit soup.
For the fruit, at this time of year, McDermott uses Frog Hollow Cal-Red peaches, shipped in single-layer boxes that cuddle a dozen peaches from the farm in Brentwood, Calif. Her ex, Jon Rowley, started the Peach-O-Rama promotion for Metropolitan Markets with these peaches, using a refractometer to measure the sugar content: at least 13 brix (percent sugar). For last week's demonstration at Diane's Market Kitchen in Post Alley (at Madison) , she used peaches that measure 20 brix, off the charts. "The omigod peach," McDermott called it.
The details of the pie-making process are not complicated as long as you keep everything ice-cold, and won't be repeated here. They're at McDermott's website,, and she teaches pie-making classes in Seattle and Port Angeles. Trust me that when you taste the pie, with its flakey crust and luscious filling, you will become a believer. The very act of pie-eating will turn you a pie-seeker. You are a disciple now, and recite the mantra: be happy, eat pie.