According to Google and the New York Times, the most “distinct” Thanksgiving recipe in Georgia, my home state, a place known for fine delicacies like peanuts, peaches, pecans, Vidalia onions, Moon Pies, Coca-Cola, and RC Cola, is key lime cake, which the Times cheerfully describes as taking key lime pie “to the next level.” Leaving aside the fact that I have never heard of anyone in the state of Georgia producing a key lime cake for any occasion, much less Thanksgiving, this dish is, on its face, a farce.
Key lime pie perhaps suffers from being ill-crafted more than any baked dessert in the world, save the weird, engorged puck of cream cheese and sugar piled on a graham-cracker crust that is commonly referred to as “New York cheesecake.” The average key lime pie is too sweet, too green, too gelatinous. A key lime cake, should anyone deign to make such a thing, is merely an invitation to further degradation: sweeter, greener, more maltextured still. Further, should we consider the uniquely Southern context proposed by this so-called data journalism, a common indignity suffered by food in the South is that when a sweetener is called for in a dish, it cannot be be applied gingerly, but with extreme force, smothering any possible nuance in taste or composition; this is practically endemic in sauces, sweet-savory side dishes, and desserts. This affliction is particularly deadly to the delicate balance necessary for good key lime pie. Put simply, it is reasonable to believe that no one in the South should attempt to make key lime desserts of any sort, much less a cake.
This is to say nothing, of course, of the fact that pie is wholly and completely better than cake.