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Life of Pi (Crust) 

America loves controversy. Just look at the popularity of sports, reality TV shows and the polarization of political ideals. It stands to reason, then, that the most American of foods, apple pie, is a hotbed of steamy, opinionated discussion.

Not the filling, mind you, so much as the crust, which most will agree is the real heart of a good pie. As a lazy patriot, I usually buy pre-made crust because (1) it's cheap and (2) it's hard to make. This might be why I don't make pie very often. But a good crust can create a lingering sense of contentment, especially considering that it usually comes at the end of a good meal. With that in mind, Square Belly Food Theater is hosting a class with chef John Lyle called "The Secret Life of Pie (Crust)."

Lyle, the chef behind the popular Hardcore Farm to Face's Chosen Spot Dinner series, discusses techniques and ingredients for this seemingly simple dough. Is shortening best? Or lard? What about butter? How long should it rest? And at what temperature? An informal poll in the Bohemian office yielded five different recipes by five different people, and all swore by them as the best. John Lyle attempts to put the controversy to rest on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the Arlene Francis Center. 99 Sixth St., Santa Rosa. 6:30pm. $20, sliding scale. 707.528.3009.

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