MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Tomorrow is March 14 - 3/14.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Three-point-one-four-one-five-nine-two-six-five-three-five-eight-nine-seven-nine-three-two-three...
BLOCK: Celebrated around the world each year as Pi Day. That's pi - P, I - which you'll remember, of course, is the Greek letter symbolizing the mathematical constant for the ratio of a circle's conference to its diameter. It has an infinite number of digits. Over one trillion digits have been calculated beyond the decimal point. And at Alice Deal Middle School here in Washington, students celebrated Pi Day today with a competition to see who could memorize the most digits.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: ...Four-nine-one-four-one-two-seven-three, and that's all I know.
BLOCK: This year will be an extra special Pi Day because tomorrow will be 3/14/15 - the first five digits of pi. Celebrate at 9:26, and you'll tack on three more digits. And what better way to celebrate than with the real thing?
GESINE BULLOCK-PRADO: Never underestimate the power of pie.
BLOCK: That's pastry chef and pie true-believer Gesine Bullock-Prado. And Gesine, I'm thinking that Pi Day might just be your favorite day of the year.
BULLOCK-PRADO: It pretty much is. And pi, the number, is described as irrational and transcendental, which pretty much sums up my love of pie.
BLOCK: Your love of pie being irrational, transcendental - knowing no bounds.
BULLOCK-PRADO: No bounds whatsoever. Infinite is my love for pie.
BLOCK: (Laughter) Well, what would you say is the best pie? If you're going to celebrate Pi Day, what's your top pick for the best pie to celebrate it with?
BULLOCK-PRADO: Well, considering the fact we are just getting through a horrible winter, it's time for some sunshine. So mango-key lime pie is pretty much on the docket as my favorite pie right now.
BLOCK: And what's involved in the mango-key lime pie?
BULLOCK-PRADO: Well, the obvious: mangoes and key lime.
BLOCK: (Laughter) Yeah, I figured that part out.
BULLOCK-PRADO: But also some Mascarpone cheese, which gives a little more tartness and creaminess, sweetened condensed milk, which is pretty much de rigueur in key lime pies, and a really sweet, buttery crust, which you can eat all by itself if you'd like, or...
BLOCK: If you're that kind of person, yeah.
BULLOCK-PRADO: If you're that kind of person, which I tend to be. And then top it with some sweetened whipped cream with a little more Mascarpone cheese in it, and you're good to go.
BULLOCK-PRADO: You've got sunshine on a plate.
BLOCK: Absolutely. Well, we're going to put that recipe on our webpage, npr.org. So if somebody didn't want to be quite that enterprising maybe in the kitchen, what about something really simple, just get out there and honor Pi Day in the simplest way possible?
BULLOCK-PRADO: A perfect way to do that is a little Pop-Tart. And don't think of the full-size ones; this is a mini one on a stick. You just need some jam from your refrigerator - 'cause I know you've got some in there - and then a very simple buttery dough. It's called pate sucre. It sounds fancier than it is.
BULLOCK-PRADO: You just cut it into little rectangles, fill it with some jam, put another rectangle - pastry on top - done.
BLOCK: But rectangles, right? We're not honoring the roots of pi, which have to do with circles. This is a...
BULLOCK-PRADO: You can also make it circular. It's - you know, you can stick a stick in anything...
BLOCK: (Laughter) That's true.
BULLOCK-PRADO: ...Including a circle.
BLOCK: That's true. I know we're going to be hearing from folks who are gluten-free who are saying, hey, what about me?
BULLOCK-PRADO: So I make a combination of gluten-free flours, which includes brown rice flour. And you also add some Xanthan gum, which is the binder that gluten is in gluten flours. And then you can also use butter because that doesn't have any gluten in it.
BLOCK: Thank goodness for that.
BULLOCK-PRADO: The miracle of butter.
BLOCK: Gesine, are you going to be celebrating Pi Day with some pie tomorrow?
BULLOCK-PRADO: Well, I have a chocolate caramel tart. I have the mango-key lime on deck. I will have some pie-pops, so everybody can enjoy while I hanker down with my own pies.
BLOCK: (Laughter) Well, enjoy. Happy Pi Day to you and to everybody there.
BULLOCK-PRADO: Happy Pi Day.
BLOCK: Gesine Bullock-Prado, her latest book is "Let Them Eat Cake," but it also does include recipes for pie.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOSE YOURSELF IN THE DIGITS")
PI DIDDY: (Rapping) I'm whacked and I don't exactly know why. I'm acting like I am attracted to pi. So back to a kid jam-packed with random numbers. I think this whole process is makin' me dumber. It still shakes me up, man. It makes me sentimental that a number so essential is also transcendental, caught up between bein' in fashion and bein' irrational. It's passion flashin' through my brain whenever I explain it. You better lose yourself in the digits of pi. It's a high, but you got a thousand more to go. The numbers do not stop or drop into pattern, no. Memorizin' 'em takes most of a lifetime. Pi is 3.14159...
BLOCK: That's Pi Diddy of teachpi.org with his tune, "Lose Yourself In The Digits."