Tuesday, December 04, 2018


You can’t get much for 50 cents nowadays--in my area, the cheapest donuts or breakfast tacos are over 50 cents--but you CAN get a mini-version of Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie at your local Wal-Mart for 50 cents!

Ms. LaBelle--soul singing star for over 50+ years (there was a great collection of her 60’s Atlantic
recordings with the Blue Belles on Ichiban 15 or so years ago called OVER THE RAINBOW, which you can still get used for under $10--if a sublime combination of the girl-group sound and female soul singing groups is what you are after, this is it!) and still touring regularly--is also a food person, with multiple cookbooks and packaged-food items for sale, much of it in the soul-food vein, which is always welcome at my house!

I’ve picked up a few of her cobblers and pies when they have been consigned to the outdated bin at the local Wal-Mart and cost about a third of their original price, but unfortunately, they are ultra high calorie items, and if I want to be around for future Cornflake Zoo compilations or the eventual release of Jerry Lewis’s THE DAY THE CLOWN CRIED, I can’t really eat that kind of thing. Oh yes, I can hear someone say, “why don’t you cut it into twelve slices and eat it over a week or two?” Maybe someone else has that kind of discipline, but I don’t. I could eat this kind of thing in a double portion at every meal. I DON”T, but I could. If the world were going to end in three hours, and my A1C diabetes number and cholesterol ratings were no longer an issue, I might want to eat an entire buttermilk pie, while swilling some Islay Scotch (neat, with two small ice cubes) and blasting some Frank Wright albums as I perused my favorite passages from Melville and Henry Miller. Let Nero fiddle while Rome burns--I’ll take a soul-food pie.

Fortunately, some genius at Ms. LaBelle’s “Patti’s Good Life Foods” came up with the idea of offering an individual 3 ounce version of Patti’s rich and flavorful sweet potato pie, and even better than that, it’s only FIFTY CENTS, the same price as the generic store-brand mini-pies sold at Wal-Mart.

For those unfamiliar with sweet potato pie, it’s a close cousin to pumpkin pie because both are essentially custard-based pies with similar spices in them--cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc. I think of the sweet potato pie being lighter in color and texture than the pumpkin, and also with a hint of molasses--and checking Patti’s list of ingredients on this pie, I do see molasses....but just a hint. Patti likes to use a lot of butter in her cooking (I'm glad she's still around if she actually eats these things herself), and that’s true here too.

I first had one of these mini Patti pies two months ago when I drove three hours each way to see Bob Dylan in Sugar Land, TX (SW of Houston) and arrived at the venue too early to enter. I picked up one at the store down the street, slipped it into the inside pocket of my coat, and took it into the swank "Smart Financial Centre" Theatre, consuming it about fifteen minutes into the show while Dylan was performing his new arrangement of "Cry A While," with guitarist Charlie Sexton grafting the riff from Link Wray's "Rumble" onto it. Somehow, that made perfect sense.

One of these mini-pies is only 250 calories, and it creates an instant down-home holiday event wherever you consume it. Pick up a tall-boy of malt liquor for $1.29 while you’re at it, and you’ll get change back from your two dollars. If you’ve got a computer handy or a friend does, go to You Tube and find one of those channels that has all the chronological singles of someone like Freddy Cannon or Duane Eddy or The Fireballs so you can listen for hours, turn up the volume, and then go to Comic Book Plus and read some free Public Domain issues of Charlton Comics such as Billy The Kid or Submarine Attack (be sure you’ve read the most recent entry here on BLOG TO COMM first, though). It’ll be the best two dollars you ever spent.

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