In a strange dream one night, Indonesian-born Theresia Gunawan saw
herself selling potpies. She woke up confused, not entirely sure what
potpies even were. But Gunawan, a former chief cook at Mills College,
believed in the power of dreams and was game to learn more. Three years
later, she presides over Pot Pie Paradise, selling her golden treats
stuffed with a world-spanning retinue of meat, vegetarian, and vegan
fillings at the Temescal and Castro Valley farmers' markets as well as
at her own Hayward shop. Raised outside the West, thus not
restrictively loyal to classic chicken potpie — although she does
make those, too — Gunawan offers more than two dozen
varieties, ranging from fricassee pie to tikka masala pie to tempeh pie
to gumbo pie to goulash pie to Creole gumbo pie to Thai-curry pie to
chicken-cacciatore pie (with rice-shaped orzo pasta) to Osaka-beef pie
(with soy sauce and sake) to beef-and-egg-noodles pie to lime-lamb pie.
Dessert pies include a rum-spiked piña colada pie that was
featured in last August's issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray.
What is it about potpies and other stuffed baked things that makes us
feel so snuggly and satisfied? Maybe it's their self-contained
neatness. Maybe it's their circularity. Maybe it's that they're the
culinary version of wrapped gifts.