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The Key Lime Pie Debate – Part 1

November 2, 2010

For many folks the first visit to the “Sunshine State” provides for some of their first true Floridian experiences of seeing lawns adorned with bright pink plastic flamingos, maybe trying a delicious local seafood or stone crab dinner, or indulging in a cold and refreshing slice of our State’s official dessert, the Key Lime Pie. The latter is one of those first time experiences that you seem to never forget, and most restaurants in our tourist mecca state usually serve some version of a Key Lime Pie.

It seems that there is somewhat of a controversy amongst self proclaimed Key lime pie aficionados as to the correct version of this culinary treat – graham cracker crust or pastry crust? Meringue topping, whipped cream topping or just plain with no topping? For some this proves to be the contention of regional recipes and can be the fuel of a heated argument over dinner. However, there are two things that everyone who is knowledgeable about Key lime pie can agree upon – it is not green and that an authentic Key lime pie is yellow and that the key lime fruit itself is yellow unlike its cousin the Persian lime.

As Florida trivia reflects, whether true or not, the Key lime Pie was born as a result of a lack of fresh milk, since no refrigeration and ice were available in the Keys until the 1930s. Prior to this time, local cooks had to rely on canned sweetened condensed milk which kept well despite Florida’s hot climate. Even in today’s modern society the sweetened condensed milk remains the equally important ingredient to that of the Key lime juice, which makes for its creamy and smooth texture.

In 1994, the State Legislature officially recognized the Key lime pie as a unique and important icon of Florida. The Key lime pie had its fair share of scrutiny as North Florida lawmakers argued that a pecan pie, made with pecans grown in Florida, would better reflect the state’s Southern history. The Florida Key lime pie finally prevailed and during the 2006 Session, the Florida Legislature (via House Bill 453 and Senate Bill 676) made the “Key Lime Pie the Official Florida State Pie” as of July 1, 2006.

Check back tomorrow to read the rest of the Key lime pie debate.

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