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Erskine Taylor III

Independent pie salesman

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Shoppers can find Erskine Taylor III at the Hollygrove Market & Farm (8301 Olive St., 298-8721; www.hollygrovemarket.com) twice a week selling palm-sized pies under a canopy, typically accompanied by a boombox soundtrack of tunes by Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. His wife Dolores Taylor cooks pies in varieties like sweet potato, pecan and lemon meringue. The couple had made and sold these types of pies many years ago, and after they retired from their respective careers as an electrician and a therapist, they decided to rekindle the former side business. Erskine tended a vegetable patch at Hollygrove's community garden, and last year he began selling pies at its markets. He's there from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.

Gambit icon: What's the story behind your pies?

T: Well, they happened because I married a lady who makes great pies. This was in 1966, and back then we'd sell them from time to time in addition to our other jobs. We'd sell them all around the Calliope (now the B.W. Cooper public housing development), in beauty parlors, in barbershops and even in some groceries.

G: What do you think sets your pies apart?

T: My wife makes all the pies, that's what she loves to do. And I don't care what you do, electrician, plumber, anything, if you love your job it's reflected in the work you produce. Me, I love meeting people. Lots of the people you meet at the market here are from other towns and they've fallen in love with New Orleans but they don't really know the native cuisine we have here. Pies like this have always been something we've had in the black community, and here I get to give people a taste of it.

G: Is it hard to sell dessert at a market best known for fresh vegetables?

T: None of us live what you'd call a perfect life. We all cheat a little. So people come here buying their veggies and they see a small size, 4-inch pie and they figure they can work that off or maybe because of whatever good they did all week they feel they deserve it.

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