My maternal grandfather, God rest his soul, used to say that his favorite pie was the one he was eating. There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Both sets of my grandparents spent much of their early lives in the Amish faith, and consequently I have grown up eating, and loving, traditional midwestern American pies, by which I mean dessert pies.
Pie is goodness, and truth, and virtue. I’m convinced that warring nations could come to a peace accord around a table and over a slice of my grammy’s pear pie. I have her recipe files. I make them and enjoy them. This, clearly, makes me an expert. I have pie #takes.
The realm of pie includes so many variations on a theme — savory pies are not the same as sweet pies, and far be it for me to completely dismiss the English pies available at football stadiums -- and they all have their place and are good. But in my opinion, dessert pies are the best, and that’s what I’ve chosen as my theme for today’s rankings.
(N.B.: Pie is objectively better than cake, but we’re not arguing that point right now, nor should the comments be detracted from my awesome pie opinions for the hipster argument that cake is the superior dessert. Take that s**t elsewhere.)
For now, let’s rank the Tottenham Hotspur players in their 1-0 loss to Manchester United to the theme of pie.
5 stars: Lemon Meringue
Lemon meringue is the best pie.† The crispness of the crust, combined with the sweet-tartness of the lemon filling, and topped with a pillowy cloud of whipped egg whites and baked until golden. There’s not much to dislike here: the tartness of the lemon custard is counteracted by the sweetness of the meringue, which itself dissolves like a dream in your mouth. This is pie at its greatest, and I will broker no arguments to the contrary, you communists.
† – When discussing my proposed rankings in the writer’s room, my fellow masthead members went, predictably, apes**t over this choice. I happen to think their disagreement impugns their overall moral character, but since I am a fair and benevolent blog manager, I am including an alternate five-star pie: key lime. Key lime is a fine pie. I say this, however, with the caveat that there was no overall consensus from the seething hordes, and hereby list it under extreme protest.
Kyle Walker: One of Walker’s best games this season, I thought. He has very quietly become Spurs’ most consistent player and is sneaking up the list of Spurs’ best defenders. Decisive going forward, solid in defense. Wonderful stuff.
4 stars: Pecan
Pecan pie is delightful, and it’s because pecans are wonderful nuts and deserve to be the stars of this dessert. By putting the pecans on the top of the pie instead of mixed in you get a toasting effect that enhances the pecan flavor, and the filling of eggs, sugar, and butter is a perfect textural and taste counterpart. If you want to up your pecan pie game, consider a Douglas County pie, which is essentially a pecan pie with chocolate chips in the filling.
Janby Alderweirtonghen: Boy have I missed ranking Janby. United had more attacks against Spurs’ defense than what we’re used to seeing, but even when they broke Toby and Jan were there to help turn most of them away. Spurs’ defense was the least of their problems on Sunday.
Danny Rose: Another solid match from Rose. Was one of the primary outlets going forward and kept Mkhitaryan mostly quiet (before not-so-quietly taking him out with a tackle).
Hugo Lloris: An uncommonly busy day for Hugo who made a number of key stops when United got free on the break. This is why we have a guy like him.
3.5 stars: Banana Cream
This list contains a lot of fruit pies and for good reason — fruit pies are delicious and represent, generally speaking, the best that pies can offer. But if you’re going to enter the realm of cream pies, banana cream is the best of the lot. It pairs perfectly with the vanilla cream and isn’t (usually) overly sweet like peanut butter, French Silk, or chocolate cream. OK, technically it’s a fruit pie too, sorry not sorry.
Mousa Dembele: Dembele was outnumbered in the midfield the entire time he was there, and credit to him that he did as well as he did against Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, and Michael Carrick, who were all very good. Came off with an ankle injury and it was notable that, as solid as Harry Winks was, Spurs lost any impetus going forward out of the midfield when Moose left the game.
Christian Eriksen: You can say that Eriksen wasn’t as good as he was against Swansea or CSKA (he wasn’t) but he was still the primary source through which most of Spurs’ chances came. Forced David De De Gea into two solid saves, and his delivery to Wanyama for that #&$@ing header was sublime. Spurs’ offense wasn’t great, but most of the good stuff happened because of Christian or his influence.
Moussa Sissoko: Sissoko was good! At the time his sub was... let’s just call it “questionable,” but he was direct and aggressive with the ball, and was one of the only Spurs players to actually create offense. He needs work on his end product, but this was a good outing.
3 stars: Apple
Ask people on the street to name the first kind of pie they can think of and they’ll usually answer “apple.” It’s ubiquitous, the ur-pie. Which is why it’s only 3 stars: apple pie is nearly always good and rarely bad, but there are far, far better and more interesting pies out there. Still, it’s waiting for you whenever you need it, like your mom’s hugs. (Now, if you add bourbon and maple syrup and top it with a bacon lattice, that’s an entirely different story and worthy of an increased rating, but then we’re into the murky realm of “modified pies.”)
Son Heung-Min: Started out brightly and forced a great save from De Gea but faded towards the end and was subbed off. Sissoko probably had a greater impact.
Harry Winks: I continue to be impressed by Winksy’s fast development and think he’s not that far away from being a solid rotation option for Tottenham. That said, he doesn’t do the things that Dembele does and it was notable that Spurs’ midfield wasn’t as effective when he came on. Really want to see him get starts against Hull and/or Burnley this week, though.
Victor Wanyama: I waffled between 3 and 2.5 stars for Vincent. Defensively he was pretty good, but he had a tendency to wander ahead of Moose on the regular and his passing wasn’t good enough to be effective in that role. It was frustrating to watch. And oh, that sitter of a header! ARGH.
2 stars: Pumpkin
Imagine this paragraph bracketed by fire emoji. Pumpkin spice crap is ubiquitous in our culture, which tells me that people like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. I’m not really convinced that people actually like pumpkin pie. It’s... pureed cooked squash in a pie shell. Sure, I’ll have it on Thanksgiving, but it’s got a weird texture thing going on and reminds me of what I used to feed my kids when they were babies. I’ll make it, and I’ll eat it, because it’s pie. But let’s stop pretending that it’s actually good.
Dele Alli: United did a very good job of isolating and containing Dele, effectively neutralizing him. When Dele isn’t getting or finding space, he can get frustrated and stuck in his own head. That’s what happened on Sunday. Dele was poor, but credit to United for helping him along that path.
Harry Kane: Likewise, Kane was effectively marked out of the game, and it’s unfortunate that his major moment of influence came from a hospital ball in midfield that led to United’s goal. A game to forget for Harry.
1 star: Cherry
I like cherries, but cherry pie is almost always disappointing. It’s mostly bad canned cherries swimming in gelatinous neon-red goop. Not even the best crust in the world can save it, and the results rarely taste like actual cherries. Plus, cherry pie is a pie that really needs vanilla ice cream to complete it. Pie that can’t stand on its own is a bad pie. Can you make a good cherry pie from scratch? Undoubtedly, but you rarely see it in the wild. Avoid.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as cherry pie. Or that damned Warrant song.