A few months ago, 7-year-old Rory Halm, daughter of Erika Kercher Halm of Methow Trails and Brad Halm of Little Star Montessori, asked her mother, “What is the number for cake?”

“What?” Erika said, thinking it was another one of those impossible-to-answer kid questions, not because it was inexplicable, but because the question itself made absolutely no sense.

“The number for cake,” Rory insisted. “Cake — what is its number?”

Erika still didn’t know what she meant and probed a bit more until finally Rory said in exasperation, “The number for cake! Pie has a number, three-point-one-four. What is the number for cake?”

I squirreled that story away until now. Happy International Pi Day week! (If you have totally forgotten everything you learned in geometry, I will remind you that Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and for standard purposes it is calculated at 3.14, although if you have 10 hours to spare you can watch Rajveer Meena recite, from memory, an additional 70,000 digits.)

Pi Day always reminds me of math in general, and circles in particular. One of my favorite circles is the tortilla, especially the freshly made, 97% perfectly round tortillas of a man who was an indelible influence during my time instructing Outward Bound courses near Redford, Texas in the 1990s: Enrique Madrid.

In addition to being a historian, archeologist, philosopher, physicist, author, teacher and champion of human rights, Enrique is also a tortilla master. Enrique became fascinated by the seemingly perfectly circular tortillas made by Chihuahuan women and instead of simply scarfing them down with hot frijoles the way the rest of us might have, Enrique set out to create a mathematical formula that would allow him to replicate them.

The formula itself involves a bunch of numerators whose significance I have forgotten, and whose representation is not included on the standard keyboard, but basically it all came down to two things: uniformity and 72 degrees. Enrique would take a nice round ball of dough, pat it into as perfect a circle as he could, and then roll it out in a precise sequence that involved uniform application of pressure and uniform rotation, 72 degrees at a time.

Enrique, a descendant of the Jumano people whose home has been the Big Bend-Rio Grande area since time immemorial, insisted that a 97% perfectly round tortilla tasted better than the ovoid or peanut-shaped tortillas that most of us made on our first — OK, let’s face it, even tenth — attempts. And you know what? He is right.

To answer Rory’s question, if Pi’s number is 3.14, I would give cake something like a 2.63. Ice cream rates a full 5 out of 5. And one of Enrique’s 97% perfectly round tortillas? If the scale went to 11, that’s where those tortillas would be.