Blackbird Pot Pie: Not the Pie Umami Made
Mary T. Diorio Schilling


TCF, USA, 2013
Appetite, Community, Food, History, Memory
02 53


For some South Jersey residents, "Sing a Song of Sixpence" is more than just a nursery rhyme; it's supper.

Blackbird Pot Pie: Not the Pie Umami Made, produced by Mary T. Diorio Schilling, was chosen as the first-ever Third Coast People's ShortDoc Award winner, in the 2013 ShortDocs Challenge (SDC).

A collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, the SDC invited anyone and everyone to produce a short audio story inspired by "appetite," presented in three courses, and featuring one of the five tastes in the title: bitter, salty, sour, sweet, umami.

Hear the four other winners and all of this year's SDC submissions, in our Radio Potluck. Read comments from listeners who voted for Blackbird Pot Pie: Not the Pie Umami Made, for the 2013 People's ShortDoc Award, Behind the Scenes.


Mary T. Diorio Schilling is an independent audio producer who hails from Philadelphia and a tiny village in southwestern New Jersey. While drawn to stories from the simpler life near her home, Schilling will follow any story that reveals a depth and richness of person and place.


Hungry for more? Listen to other submissions from the 2013 ShortDocs Challenge, our collaboration with the James Beard Foundation that invited anyone / everyone to produce short audio stories inspired by the theme of appetite, told in three “courses,” and including one of the five tastes in the title: bitter, salty, sour, sweet or umami.

Hear Mary T. Diorio's 2012 ShortDocs submission.

BEHIND THE SCENES with Blackbird Pot Pie: Not the Pie Umami Made.

Music Credits:

Dana Mae Gayner, Hannah, Jordan, Katarina, Megan and Ryann, Mannington Music School.
James Fitzmartin, William Penn Charter School
John E. Fahrner

Image Credit: 
Emily Gillespie

In voting for the People's ShortDoc, listeners offered these comments about about Blackbird Pot Pie: Not the Pie Umami Made:

- I hate to admit it, but I now have the greatest curiousity to eat a blackbird. Just hearing John describe the taste activated my salivary glands. Plus just hearing John's recounting of this childhood recollection was also like biting into something savory and immediately having a long-forgotten fond memory triggered.

- I was captivated by this from the moment the guy gives a little laugh while talking at 0:08, and remained so when I realized he was talking about something as disgusting as eating blackbirds. This piece was so well-produced, and the voice... oh, the voice.

- This story reminds me of my father, now 87 years old. He is often troubled by things he cannot remember, however he is able to recall moments from his childhood with amazing clarity. This narrator is able to transport the listener to a time of simple pleasures.

- Wonderful storytelling, where food comes alive in time and place. The substance of the narration gives us a wonderful sense of "place" and his memories and voice make "time" a character in the story, as well. The children's singing is a charming echo of the narrator's own graveling song. In sum, lovely!


I heard it on the radio and HAD to look it up to listen to it again.
I loved the story. What a wonderfully warm voice to listen to!
Posted by Vilma from California at 08/03/2013
Loved this bit heard it last night on the radio looked for it all day today to listen again. Nice, thanks.
Posted by Tony from Texas at 07/28/2013
Oh wow, that was just wonderful, folklore come to life. Love his voice, too. I could visualize everything!
Posted by Marie D. Jones from Southern Cali at 07/24/2013
A beautiful capturing of character and history, presented in a fascinating juxtaposition of childhood song and lived life.
Posted by Bob Bowersox from Key West, FL at 07/23/2013
I could listen to this over and over again. What an amazing voice he has!
Posted by Sonia Duprez from Philadelphia at 07/20/2013
Delightful use of sound and a surprisingly memorable story. Thank you!
Posted by Laura Markowitz from Tucson, AZ at 07/19/2013
Wasn't that a dainty piece to hear about the world I never knew? What an image - blackbird pie.
Posted by Karen from Philadelphia at 07/18/2013