As Muslim-American as bean pie
August 2, 2018 11:25 AM   Subscribe

If you’ve never had a bean pie, you’re missing out on a lot more than a dessert. Made from navy beans, it was developed by black Muslims in the Nation of Islam in the 1930s. The history of why they created it, and what it represents, tells one of the most essential stories about Muslims in America. And as you’ll see, it is extremely delicious.

This is part of Season 2 of “Who’s Afraid of Aymann Ismail?,” a series featuring Slate’s Aymann Ismail investigating fears about Muslims in America.

"In this episode, I travel to Abu’s Bakery in Brooklyn, the only bakery in New York City to make the pie, where the founder and his son tell me why they carry on the legacy. I also stop by the Brooklyn Historical Society, where oral historian Zaheer Ali—the head of an incredible project called Muslims in Brooklyn—explains how a simple pie symbolizes the black Muslim experience in America. "
posted by TheGoodBlood (18 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
We're not going to beanplate this thing, are we?

I'll have to check out Abu's Bakery next time I visit NYC.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:27 AM on August 2 [3 favorites]


there's a previously for this, happily.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:30 AM on August 2 [1 favorite]


The last bakery in New York City to make bean pie, that sounds crazy. Do more bakeries do it as a holiday thing? I can get a bean pie outside of one of my local grocery stores around the holidays, but I don't know where I would go for one if I needed it right now.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:20 PM on August 2


I could have sworn I saw this on Metafilter but I can't seem to find it:

Bean pie, my brother? The Nation of Islam's iconic dessert is still around, if you know where to look.

The article is pretty interesting and goes into the history in Chicago.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:45 PM on August 2 [4 favorites]


Ah from this previously on pies.
posted by Ashwagandha at 12:48 PM on August 2


A couple of years ago, we had a bunch of people over and ordered a lot of takeout from a Jamaican restaurant. Because of the size of the order, they threw in a free bean pie which blew everyone's mind. It was completely alien to most of us. Sadly, when we tried again a few months later the woman who made the bean pies had left the area. Glad we got to try one, at least.
posted by maurice at 1:19 PM on August 2


I'm upset that I've never had a bean pie, and also that between all the lingering shots of them in the top link that they didn't describe it in more detail. It kind of looks like it has the texture of a good pecan pie filling san pecans, but I hope it's much less sweet than what that would be. I wonder if it'd be comparable to sweet red bean? Anybody got a hook up for bean pie in Seattle?

I love this kind of thing so much, and I particularly love how universally accessible this little pie is. It looks simple and friendly. If I could just, like, pop a bean pie in with all the bullshit my hypocritical islamophobic family members have in their dang heads, I feel like it would help a lot.
posted by Mizu at 2:24 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


If I could just, like, pop a bean pie in with all the bullshit my hypocritical islamophobic family members have in their dang heads, I feel like it would help a lot.

It wouldn’t.

Just like the Nation of Islam whence it came, bean pie has little to nothing to do with Islam, and vice-versa. NOI is only slightly more closely related to Islam than the Shriners are. It’s a Black Nationalist cult with Orientalist pretensions. Every famous African-American (including every one mentioned in the video) who joned NOI when it was fashionable to do so got out immediately and went Sufi.

These days it’s a front for Scientology. Seriously.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:32 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]


Definitely not the last bakery in NYC who makes bean pie.

Sweet Chef Southern Style Bakery has them, for example.
posted by pmb at 6:36 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


These days [NOI is] a front for Scientology. Seriously.

Huh. And again, huh. I never would have imagined it, but apparently they've been officially working together for the best part of a decade, and Farrakhan reportedly gets a percentage of fees paid by every NOI member who takes "auditor" training. NOI is horribly antisemitic, but if anything could make me feel sorry for its members …
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:59 PM on August 2 [1 favorite]


Every famous African-American (including every one mentioned in the video) who joned NOI when it was fashionable to do so got out immediately and went Sufi.

Sunni? Or maybe some people got into Sufism too but I assume you are talking about the departure of people like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X to join mainstream denominations of Islam. I certainly wouldn't say I'm an admirer of the NOI either (they also, you know, killed Malcolm X) but I think you might be understating its historical influence.
posted by atoxyl at 11:56 PM on August 2


the departure of people like Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X to join mainstream denominations of Islam

Or, rather, a number of the famous adherents left and then in the late 70s when Elijah Muhammad's son took over he tried to steer the whole organization toward a closer affiliation with mainstream Islam and subsequently pretty much disbanded it. Then Farrakhan revived it as the Scientology-affiliated version that exists today.
posted by atoxyl at 12:02 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


(That's also fudging it a little - I don't think Farrakhan really got into Scientology until relatively recently.)
posted by atoxyl at 12:52 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I really have nothing to say about NOI, just gonna read comments.

but for the food itself - OOOH I would totally eat a bean pie. My adzuki bean loving, cuban black bean, just BEANS!! loving self would eat so much of this. eat more pastries and baked goods made with beans y'all <3 it's so great.
posted by yueliang at 1:57 AM on August 3


I don't think Farrakhan was a clam back when Chuck D claimed that he was a prophet he thought you really ought to listen to.
posted by acb at 2:56 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I'm upset that I've never had a bean pie, and also that between all the lingering shots of them in the top link that they didn't describe it in more detail. It kind of looks like it has the texture of a good pecan pie filling san pecans, but I hope it's much less sweet than what that would be.

I've not had one either, but from the recipes I've seen online it sounds like it would be more akin to pumpkin pie or sweet potato pie. Neither pumpkins or sweet potatoes are pie-type flavors in and of themselves; what you're mostly tasting is the sugar and spices that season and flavor the custard-ized vegetable mash. Bean pie just uses mashed beans instead of mashed pumpkin, as far as I've read in recipes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:28 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Yes--bean pies taste very much like sweet potato and pumpkin pies. The texture is a little different, but not so much that I think that anyone given one without being told what it was would easily accept it as a sweet potato or a pumpkin pie.
posted by pykrete jungle at 9:10 AM on August 3


Every famous African-American (including every one mentioned in the video) who joned NOI when it was fashionable to do so got out immediately and went Sufi.

Or went surfing...

James Baldwin never joined, because he smelled something bad right away.
For Baldwin, this dream is a pernicious lie, nothing more or less than white supremacy’s mirror image. He considers them twin ideologies that rest on the same principle: “the glorification of one race and the consequent debasement of another.” The Nation merely inverts America’s racial hierarchy rather than upending it, replacing the Christian West’s white God with a black one. Standing on a crowded Harlem street corner, Baldwin hears a Nation minister speak and concludes that, “as theology goes, it was no more indigestible than the more familiar brand asserting that there is a curse on the sons of Ham . . . it has been designed for the same purpose; namely, the sanctification of power.”
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:21 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


« Older "Her name is Batfink."   |   THEIR FACES: DEFENDERS ON THE FRONTLINE Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments