3.14: Happy Pi Day!

piFor those who didn’t know, today, March 14—3.14—is Pi Day. And believe it or not, some people take Pi Day very seriously. (It is also, coincidentally, Albert Einstein’s birthday.) If you live in San Francisco, you might already be well acquainted with 3.14: For the past 25 years, the Exploratorium has hosted Pi Day celebrations, which include a 500-person parade to the city’s Pi Shrine (yes, a shrine that features the first 108 digits of pi). The festivities kick off at 1:59pm (so that’s 3.14 1:59—the first five digits of pi), and each person gets a yardstick with a single digit of pi, lined up in order, singing happy birthday to Einstein. Princeton, NJ, hosts pie-eating contests and an Einstein look-a-like contest, which this year was dominated by 18-month-old Luisa Bonner (she nailed it). Pizza places across the country are offering pies for $3.14, and some people host memorization competitions (try beating Daniel Tammet’s European record: In 2004, Tammet recited 22,514 digits of pi from memory). Others prefer to go small and just throw High Pis (instead of High Fives).

If you don’t really see the point in celebrating Pi Day, not for Einstein’s birthday or for the mathematical constant, then how about this: It’s a great excuse to eat pie. You don’t have to go all out the way these Caltech students did, but why not try Taymer Mason’s sweet and savory Classic Barbadian Sweet Potato Pie for dinner tonight? And while you’re at it, check out these nine amazing pie charts. Happy Pi Day!

Classic Barbadian Sweet Potato Pie—from Caribbean Vegan by Taymer Mason

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This sweet potato dish is traditionally served on Sundays or on special occasions. The topping is stunning: pineapple slices and cherries—you have to love that. Feel free to double or triple the recipe, but I prefer this pie in small quantities, served with a bit of Onion Gravy. Ordinarily, this pie is baked in a baking pan and then cut into squares for serving, but my version calls for making individual pies.

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 pound, 6 ounces (600 g) white- or yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine
  • ½ cup (125 ml) pineapple juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon or cassia
  • Salt
  • 2 pineapple slices
  • 2 cherries
Directions

  1. Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling salted water until tender.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease two 5-inch (13 cm) ramekins.
  3. Drain the sweet potatoes, add the margarine, pineapple juice, and cinnamon, and mash until smooth. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Transfer to the greased ramekins. Top each pie with a pineapple slice and a cherry. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned around the sides. Serve warm.

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