Beth Howard has always believed that pie can make the world a better place—and she set out to prove that theory on a bucket-list trip that became the basis for her new book, World Piece: A Pie Baker’s Global Quest for Peace, Love, and Understanding. After her husband’s death at the age of 43, Howard healed her grief by making pie. From 2010 to 2014, she lived in the iconic American Gothic House in Eldon, Iowa, where from she ran a pie shop called the Pitchfork Pie Stand. Thanks to her blog called “The World Needs More Pie, her books and a Ted Talk on the healing power of pie, Howard has become known as the “Pie Lady” or “Miss American Pie.” For years, Howard dreamed of traveling the world—not to tick off a list of tourist sites, but to immerse herself in the culture of each country by making pie with local residents. “When my husband died, he left behind 420,000 frequent flyer miles. I had been saving them to fulfill a childhood dream of traveling around the world in one consecutive go,” says Howard. “I didn’t want to be a tourist, though; I wanted to have a purpose and immerse myself in other cultures. The trip felt too daunting, but the miles were expiring so I faced my fears, packed my rolling pin and launched myself into the unknown.”
That bucket-list dream turned into an epic three-month journey that took Howard and her rolling pin to New Zealand, Thailand, India, Greece and beyond. In each place, she used America’s beloved comfort food as a way to connect with locals. As she shared pie lessons, she learned about the origins of many traditional dishes around the globe—including pie, of course. She documented the journey in World Piece. Here, we find out about Howard’s inspirational adventure, learn how she overcame her fears and discover how pie might be the answer to world peace. And a bonus: Howard also shares her favorite pie recipe.