What is a Cuban pie?

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On Sunday, October 2, the Fowler Museum at UCLA opens a solo show devoted to the late Cuban printmaker Belkis Ayón. Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón” features 43 collographs, many of them Ayón’s interpretations of the Abakuá. This all-male secret society made its way to Cuba from Western Africa during the slave trade.

Ayón made her collographs by collaging materials of different textures onto cardboard before running them through a printing press. The resulting works are studies in contrast that are mysterious, arresting and a bit extra-terrestrial, one might say. “These figures can look at you but cannot speak,” art historian Cristina Figueroa told NPR in reference to a story about Ayon’s work in 2009. “So you have to interpret what they’re trying to say through the expressions in their eyes.”

Belkis Ayón, “Veneración” (Veneration), ca. 1986. Lithograph and blindprint. 47 x 68.8 cm. Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate.

But what does the “Nkame” exhibition have to do with pie, a much talked-about subject at KCRW this time of year? For the past two years, KCRW’s annual pie contest has featured a “World Pie” category inspired by a current exhibition at the Fowler Museum. This year, we give you our “Cuban Pie” category, a nod to the Belkis Ayón retrospective.

Cuban picadillo pies. (Photo courtesy of Marta Darby)

The beauty of the “Cuban Pie” category is its versatility. For sure, you should feature flavors that are particular to Cuba. And you must follow our general contest guidelines. (See our pie contest FAQs) But otherwise, the sky’s the limit. Think plantain picadillo pies, natilla custard pies, Cuban sandwich pies and malanga pies. You could even throw some vaca frita into a favorite pie crust and call it a day.

For more inspiration, listen to the second installment of our 2016 PieCast, in which Evan gets Cuban pie tips from Marta Darby, whose blog is My Big Fat Cuban Family. We can’t wait to taste what you come up with.

Top image: Belkis Ayón, “Veneración” (Veneration), ca. 1986. Lithograph and blindprint. 47 x 68.8 cm. Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate.