Late last summer the Essex blog was suddenly inundated with readers hungry for information about Adirondack Pie. In addition to our first post which tackled the question, “What is Adirondack Pie?“, two follow-up posts were also swamped with readers: “Adirondack Pie and Mille Crêpes” and “Adirondack Pie, Mille Crêpes and Epiphany “. The series of posts chronicled my quest for the Adirondack Pie recipe and back story, but I was perplexed by the surge in popularity half a year after they were originally published.
And then I discovered a book review published in the Wall Street Journal July 26, 2013: “Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Woman Who Served Jell-O to the A-List“. Estella M. Chung’s Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post was fueling the fascination for Adirondack Pie!
Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Signature Dish
As a hostess,… [Marjorie Merriweather Post] knew how to create a winningly diverse guest list… Dinner always began on time… Guests rarely ate the same thing at her houses twice… She made a notable exception for her signature dish: Adirondack Pie—layers of pancakes served with butter, maple syrup and crunchy maple sugar—which was always served at Camp Topridge and was, by all accounts, feverishly anticipated. (Marjorie Merriweather Post: The Woman Who Served Jell-O to the A-List – WSJ.com)
Ah-ha! I ordered my copy of Chung’s Living Artfully and plunged into the chapter on Camp Topridge. We pick up the Adirondack Pie storyline with four decade Topridge staff member Lawrence Lester, Marjorie Merriweather Post’s daughter Dina Merrill Hartley, and Post’s granddaughter, Ellen Charles, during a summer tradition referred to by hostess and houseguests as the “carry”. The all-day canoeing and portaging adventure bookended a decadent midday picnic which often included Adirondack Pie.
“Once we arrived at the picnic scene we had an oilcloth that we laid on the ground.” ~ Lawrence Lester
“Then grandmother would say, ‘Now we’re going to collect ferns, and we would decorate the edge of the tablecloth with the ferns.” ~ Ellen Charles
(Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post, by Estella M. Chung, p. 69)
Picnic blanket properly adorned, the hungry canoers tucked into a decadent banquet prepared by the staff and guides.
After the wonderful hot meal, “Mom would stir up the batter for the pancakes,” remembered daughter Dina Merrill Hartley, “she would make the flapjacks and flip them over.” The twelve inch pancakes would then be assembled in layers with crunchy maple sugar, syrup, and butter then sliced into cake-like pieces. “It was truly delicious and you always had that once during your stay at Camp–that was tradition,” explained Ellen. (Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post, by Estella M. Chung, pp. 69-70)
After a morning of rustic canoeing and portaging, it’s easy to imagine building up an appetite for steak, potatoes and Adirondack Pie. But canoeing and portaging back to Camp Topridge after this feast is unfathomable without a sylvan snooze! And indeed Post’s guests napped before repacking and paddling back in time for dinner.
Adirondack Pie Mystery Solved
While the initial flood of traffic looking for more information about Adirondack Pie subsided during the month of August, all three posts continue to attract an audience hungry for North Country comfort food. And yet to this day I’ve never once found an Adirondack restaurant or bakery offering Adirondack Pie. Why? One of these days I’ll whip up a sweet stack of flapjacks and test the dessert out on friends, and then, if they’re smitten, we can mount a subversive campaign to make Marjorie Merriweather Post’s signature dish an Adirondack dining staple. Or perhaps we’ll all just need a lengthy snooze…
- At Hillwood, celebrating the art of living large with Marjorie Merriweather Post (washingtonpost.com)
- Hillwood: A Museum Like Few Others (metroweekly.com)
- Living Artfully: At Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post – Estella M. Chung (madamespeed.wordpress.com)