Strawn's Eat Shop first opened in Shreveport in 1944 as a diner serving home-style burgers, fried chicken and strawberry ice-box pie. The latter has garnered national recognition and a slew of salivating fans from far and wide.
I didn't know about the pie hoopla of Shreveport until I got an email from chef David Anthony Temple (aka DAT) recently about an underground dinner party. Here's an excerpt:
"Friday morning I am buying my favorite pie in the world to bring to Dallas and serve for dessert at Saturday night's Underground Dinner. Oh Yeah! Since 1944 Strawn's Eat Shop has been a Shreveport tradition and they are internationally known for their famous ice-box pies. The Strawberry pie is available year round and has been in many nationwide magazines, but one month a year Strawn's uses ripe Ruston Peaches and makes an out of this world Peach Ice Box Pie. I sure hope to have you as my guest Saturday night so I can sit down at the table with you and enjoy my favorite dessert in your company."
I decided to call DAT even though I didn't really know him. I couldn't make it to the dinner, but I still wanted pie. I begged, "Get me one of those pies, pretty, pretty, pretty please?"
He said, "Coolio."
A few days later my phone starts ringing over and over (which never happens), but I was surrounded by chickens and couldn't answer.
Then a text: "It's DAT. Pick up."
We're getting to know each other nicely.
Since pie was at stake, I did.
"Guess what I got for youuuuuuuu?," said DAT with a soft Louisiana accent. "I got a whole Strawn's ice-box peach pie."
I was giddy. His excitement for pie and food in general is easily contagious. DAT's like that. He's a funny dude. He's part hippie, part Cajun, part Creole, part retro-throwback, part old man who wants to sit down and chat over a slice of ice-box pie.
And I had a whole pie with my name on it.
With busy schedules and travel plans (and chickens), I didn't get my pie for a few days though. And you'll never guess what happened. By the time the exchange was made, my pie was down to two little lonely slices. Chef DAT was a few slices short at his underground dinner.
But, it really was OK. Because after eating the one piece that I actually got (dang chickens), I'm glad there wasn't any left because I would have easily convinced myself on how more needed to be eaten immediately.
As you can see from the pictures I pulled from Strawn's Facebook page, they use only ripe, fresh peaches that aren't cooked down or anything, so there's no opportunity to hide flavorless or unripe fruit. The thick from-scratch dough is cookie-like and the dense layer of whipped cream topping covers the peaches with the comfort of a grandma's hand-stitched quilt.
Strawn's only uses Ruston peaches, which are a Louisiana specialty. The largest orchard, Mitcham Farms, has been around since the 1930s. The peak season is mid-June to mid-July, which is the only time Strawn's makes the peach pies, but they serve strawberry all year.
Your pie waits for you 185 miles east along Interstate 20, which is about three hours. That's nothing. You can do that Saturday, easy.
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Bring a fork. See how many slices you can eat before you get home.
They have three outlets for their pie glory: Strawn's Eat Shop and Strawn's Eat Shop Too, and Strawn's Eat Shop Also. Per their FB page, they have a dinner special that includes a drink, dinner plate and slice of pie for $9.99. The home-cookin' gets almost as much praise as the pie.