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"Whoever created the Bean Pie, may Allah bless that person."
May 21, 2010 10:22 PM   Subscribe

Bean Pie, my Brother? The Muslim Bean Pie is a sweet, custard pie made from eggs, sugar, and beans (usually navy or pinto beans).

Want to try one for yourself? Look out for men in suits in the street selling pies. If you can't find a man in a suit, you can bake it yourself.
posted by Deathalicious (41 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks, that was entertaining! Personally, I prefer the sweet potato pie I grew up with down south (not to mention pecan pie, which is a certain kind of heaven in and of itself) but I tried those bean pies years back in NYC and, yeah, they're good.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:39 PM on May 21, 2010


Stick one on a plate and let me think on it (overly) and I'll get back to you.
Great little slice of social history pie, cheers.
posted by Abiezer at 10:42 PM on May 21, 2010


I've always wondered what the bean pies taste like, having heard of them but never having seen the aforementioned men in suits selling them. What would be the closest thing to compare it to?

I was also struck by the guy claiming that Fard Muhammad (the semi-legendary founder of the NOI, widely believed to have actually been a white con man passing himself off as a light-skinned black man) invented the bean pie himself. I mean, the NOI isn't that old, there have to be people who are still members that remember a time before bean pie-selling. Fard Muhammad supposedly disappeared back to Heaven or whatever (read: skipped town) in the 30s.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:47 PM on May 21, 2010


Allah may bless the bean pie, but Guan-Di is protector of bean curd. (Guan you, Guan me, Guan-Di ...)
posted by filthy light thief at 10:48 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, what was the deal with the apparently random YouTube video they show clips from, with the three stoned kids singing about "bean piiiiies get me hiiiiigh"? Was that just the first YouTube result for "bean pie", or what?
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:51 PM on May 21, 2010


I worked on that movie filthy light thief!
posted by bstreep at 10:55 PM on May 21, 2010


I'm with flapjax. Give me some pecan, sweet potato, or a slice of my granny's chess pie. Hell, maybe even some custard pie while we're on the subject.
posted by puny human at 10:56 PM on May 21, 2010


There is also a theory that the word "chess" pie comes from the piece of furniture that was common in the early South called a pie chest or pie safe. Chess pie may have been called chest pie at first because it held up well in the pie chest.

I. WANT. A. PIE. CHEST. Tell me where to buy a pie chest right now!
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:59 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've seen pie safes at an antique store near my work.

But it was my somewhat tragic predeliction for attempting baked goods transport via motorcycle that prompted a friend to exclaim, "What you need is a pie safe sidecar!"

Someday I will build one.
posted by mollymayhem at 11:10 PM on May 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


What you want is a punched tin pie chest my friend. But you'll have to drive south and search the antique shops to find one. I had a beautiful specimen, I mean the best I have ever seen, lined up at a shop in Staunton Va., but I hesitated and it was gone the next day. God I kick myself for not buying that piece :(
posted by puny human at 11:11 PM on May 21, 2010


The sad story of Detroit's Shabazz Bakery.
posted by arse_hat at 11:17 PM on May 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I rather liked the bean pie that I had the one time that I ventured into a NOI shop, in Memphis, but felt a twee bit... self-conscious at being a Caucazoid to make a return trip.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:19 PM on May 21, 2010


I find the vehement distancing from Islam and Muslims quite interesting. It used to be that Muslims were making sure that people knew Nation of Islam was something quite different, without any particular effort from that group to clarify things. I wonder whether this is a new tendency, or a one-off thing.
posted by bardophile at 11:36 PM on May 21, 2010


I gotta say, a tasty-sounding recipe and a religious rant from one FPP! That is just what I needed today!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:05 AM on May 22, 2010


> I wonder whether this is a new tendency, or a one-off thing.

The NOI changes ideological gears every few years, and is pretty much in shrink mode. Sunni/Salafi outreach efforts to urban areas, prisons, and NOI centers has taken away a fair amount of their influence, and many notable speakers like Siraj Wahhaj have defected over to traditional Sunni practice. The NOI also took a big hit when WD Mohammed made successful efforts to integrate more closely and parallel to mainstream Islam.

As for bean pies, they're alright if they're not too old, but I'll take a shawerma sandwich over them most any day.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:10 AM on May 22, 2010



Bent, front and back glass got tint
Tryin to get our hands on some dollars and cents
And fools can't hold us
Every chance we get, we hittin up the rollers
Comin up short of the green guys
And I might start slangin bean pies


posted by chaff at 12:47 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Comin up short of the green guys
And I might start slangin bean pies


Link to YouTube when you do that!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:05 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


quickie: when i lived in san francisco back in the nineties, i used to hang with the NOI downtown. i'd catch up with them when they were taking breaks making deliveries of sundried baked goods to various locations around the city.

after telling them how much i loved eating their bean pies while on break at the whole foods i stocked at, they started laughing. one of them finally told me that they'd never eaten them and they sold them to health food stores to poison whitey. sugar, they said, destroys the mind and the body.

last time i ever ate a bean pie.
posted by artof.mulata at 2:02 AM on May 22, 2010


Er, Nation of Islam Bean Pie. Not Muslim, as the NOI is considered heretical by mainstream submitters.
posted by orthogonality at 2:10 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


after telling them how much i loved eating their bean pies while on break at the whole foods i stocked at, they started laughing. one of them finally told me that they'd never eaten them and they sold them to health food stores to poison whitey. sugar, they said, destroys the mind and the body.

Heh? They sold bean pies in their own "Black Muslim Bakeries" in Oakland before the scandals of a few years ago shut all those stores down. The stores were mostly patronized by blacks. The bean pies were sold alongside plenty of other sugar-laden pies, which again, were often as not bought by blacks. So if the idea was to "poison whitey" their aim was mighty poor.

I thought the bean pies were very good. Who ever heard of a (dessert) pie that wasn't loaded with sugar?
posted by telstar at 2:11 AM on May 22, 2010


There is a local Jamaican takeout restaurant that used to offer bean pies. The first time I had one, we'd placed a big order of jerk chicken for a party and the owner tossed in a free bean pie. Since then, the woman who made the pies moved away so I can't get them anymore.
posted by maurice at 4:22 AM on May 22, 2010


sugar, they said, destroys the mind and the body.

This, as far as I know, is about the only valuable teach the NOI has to offer. I tried a few bean pies back in the days when every Brooklyn bodega was being intimidated into carrying them, and I can tell you that they are sugar mixed with sugar on sugar, with a sugar base, seasoned with sugar, with a fine sugar filling, boosted by a healthy infusion of sugar, sprinkled lightly with sugar, and finished off with sugar on a sugar-cured pile of sugar beneath a fine canopy of sugared sugar served with ground sugar in sugary sugar of sugared sugar, and marinated in "organic cane juice." Like most of the stuff you find in "health food" stores.
posted by Faze at 4:30 AM on May 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


This bakery near me run by the United Nation of Islam (apparently not to be confused with the NOI) has them, but I'm slightly too self-consciously not black to go in and try one. In general, I do like me some pie though.
posted by reptile at 6:23 AM on May 22, 2010


The one time this devil was offered a bran pie on the streets of Portland Oregon he took it. Went back for more the next day, the gentleman selling then was gone, and I have wept myself to sleep since. Glad to have a recipe. A little mothership for your mouth.
posted by eccnineten at 6:32 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The sad story of Oakland's Your Black Muslim Bakery.
posted by Nelson at 7:00 AM on May 22, 2010


The sad story of Oakland's Your Black Muslim Bakery.

Interesting FPP about it.

posted by applemeat at 7:24 AM on May 22, 2010


At least in the 90s, maybe still to this day, you could buy one at any gas station in LA (or at least any gas station south of the I-10 freeway). For some reason I was never tempted to try one. After all, why load down all that custard with beans when you can just have regular old sugar pie?
posted by drmarcj at 7:57 AM on May 22, 2010


I'm not sure about the pie safe sidecar, but the traditional pie safe isn't such a tricky contraption to build. You might even be able to buy pre-punched tin online, so you could modify an existing two-door thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:59 AM on May 22, 2010


Portland does seem like it'd be slangin' bran pies.
posted by ignignokt at 8:07 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


they are sugar mixed with sugar on sugar, with a sugar base, seasoned with sugar, with a fine sugar filling, boosted by a healthy infusion of sugar, sprinkled lightly with sugar, and finished off with sugar on a sugar-cured pile of sugar beneath a fine canopy of sugared sugar served with ground sugar in sugary sugar of sugared sugar, and marinated in "organic cane juice."

Yeah, as mentioned above, this pretty much describes "chess pie", or as the Wikipedia notes and my family called it, "Jeff Davis pie".*

*how long did it take me to realize who Jeff Davis was? A looong time. Because I was just thinking, OMG PIE.
posted by emjaybee at 8:26 AM on May 22, 2010


Or the bootleg t-shirt of the month.
posted by box at 8:46 AM on May 22, 2010


I'm not a picky eater, but somehow the idea of mixing sugar with beans has always repulsed me. That's why I don't eat zenzai/anko: those sweet azuki bean treats ubiquitous in Japan.
posted by kozad at 9:10 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, man, chess pie. I don't know if I exactly miss all that sugar-on-sugar action, but if I wanted to try one (without, of course, having to put it together myself), for old times' sake, I'd have to drive hundreds of miles.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:11 AM on May 22, 2010


Your Black Muslim bakery is now It's All Good, and I think they have the same menu.

And that sugar thing, they had to be pulling your leg, because an It's All Good peach cobbler will give your ancestors diabetes.

posted by zippy at 9:14 AM on May 22, 2010


mmm. Bean pies. Mrs. Deadmessenger makes 'em. They're awesome - they're like a sweet potato pie with a less-starchy filling.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:16 AM on May 22, 2010


For those who wonder what a bean pie tastes like: it tastes almost exactly like a sweet potato or pumpkin pie, except: you know that faint vegetable flavor in the pie? The flavor that says, "There's definitely pumpkin in there" or "There's definitely sweet potato in there". That flavor is gone. In its place is the clean flavor of spices and just barely caramelized sugar.

There's no bean flavor in it that I can detect, and as deadmessenger says they don't have a starchy feel to them, contrary to what you'd expect.

Sorry if the history article came off as a bit ranty. I honestly couldn't find another link with a comprehensive history of the food item, and I do always like to provide some history when at all possible.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:15 AM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agree with Deathalicious. It is like a very dense custard pie -- like pumpkin or butternut squash pie without the vegetable.
posted by jgirl at 11:04 AM on May 22, 2010


I used to pick these up at the Halal joint by the masjid in East Germantown when doing client visits down that way, they aren't NOI affiliated though they do segregated seating with curtained booths for women and children. Turned one down from one of Farrakhan's kids at Broad and Ridge about an hour ago; I won't give him my money but they leave free copies of the Final Call out at this apartment complex I moved into that's straight projects and I do look forward to reading the latest details about the Mother Plane's whereabouts and the best foods for proper digestion. It's like the black World Weekly News, you've got to admit it's a little irresistible.
posted by The Straightener at 1:01 PM on May 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've been wondering about these ever since they were featured on an episode of Weeds but it never occurred to me to google them because I though it was just something the character who makes them concocted on his own.
posted by Mitheral at 3:45 PM on May 22, 2010


There is also a theory that the word "chess" pie comes from the piece of furniture that was common in the early South called a pie chest or pie safe. Chess pie may have been called chest pie at first because it held up well in the pie chest.

Chess pie is flavored with...pie. My grandmother swore the name came from the fact that when people asked what the secrect ingredient was that made her pie so good, she'd say "It's jes' pie!"
posted by memewit at 6:13 PM on May 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


mmmm....sweet beans. I like pintos with maple syrup in tamales. I'd seen recipes for bean pie but hadn't gotten round to making one.

I had no idea about the history or context. Thanks!
posted by lysdexic at 11:05 PM on May 22, 2010


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