Around the World with Pie

On March 14, 2019, Newly Weds Foods celebrated Pi Day by going Around the World with Pie.  As a global company, our culinary team was up for the task to show and tell us what pie is where they are from.

Our first stop was Australia, where Chef Hayden provided a short history of pie in his country, as well as a delicious recipe.

Pie is a staple food in Australia especially when attending a sporting event. They are eaten with a healthy amount of tomato sauce added to the top. This is affectionately called a “dead horse (tomato sauce) with dogs eye(pie)”

The pie arrived in Australia with the first colonists. Pies were on the menu of Sydney’s first official banquet held to celebrate King’s birthday in June 1788, although what they contained is not recorded. 

While the classic Aussie pie is just pastry, meat and gravy, in New Zealand these ingredients are often supplemented by cheese.  The steak and cheese pie warrants its own category in their official pie awards. Encountering a puddle of molten cheese at first bite would surely add a new degree of difficulty to the already-tricky feat of consuming a pie without dribbling the contents down the front of your clothes.

In Sydney in the 1840s, one pie seller, William King, became famous as the ‘flying pieman’. His bizarre obsession was performing amazing feats of ‘pedestrianism’. In one instance, he was seen to sell pies to passengers boarding the steamer for Parramatta, and then run 18 miles to offer the remaining pies to the same passengers as they disembarked at their destination.

From the mid-1850s, pies became a staple of the refreshment rooms that sprang up to cater for passengers on the expanding railway network. Horse-drawn pie carts became fixtures on Adelaide streets and, around the 1890s that South Australian specialty, the pie floater appeared. The upside-down pie floating in a puddle of pea soup continues to fascinate or perhaps horrify those who haven’t grown up with the concept.

In 2015, we were asked by one of Australia’s leading Pie manufacturers to provide them with a spice core for a Thai green curry pie. They had already signed off on a recipe however, after a very successful presentation they asked us to look at it and offer some feedback.

After reviewing the recipe and highlighting some issues they gave us a week to submit a sample. We did this and have been selling them our version of the product for approx. 2 years. Along with an authentic Thai green curry spice core we persuaded the company to include fresh vegetables to add to the authenticity.

 

For our next stop, we went to Beijing, China to see Chef Z. Traditional Chinese meat pie provides a crispy wrapper and savory filling. There are in fact many types of meat pie popular across the country. The fillings differ from one house to another. You can use pork, lamb, or beef. Chef Z decided upon Beef & Shallots for this delicious pie.

 

From China we made our way over to the UK, where Pie is taken very seriously. Chef Adam and Chef Chris did not disappoint with their write up of the history of Pie as well as their recipes.

The Life of Pi(E)

Topped with mashed or sliced potato or encased in short crust or flaky pastry, the Great British pie is as synonymous with British culture as fish and chips. As simple as your favourite flavour may seem, pies have a history as rich as their filling. Ingredients enclosed in a wrapper and baked have been in the cook’s repertoire since the Neolithic period nearly 10,000 years ago.

However, these early recipes were not exactly what we would expect to see today. Pie-like dishes were eaten by the Egyptians who cooked their fillings in papyrus. These “crusts” were not for eating and simply used to protect and steam cook their contents. The idea of some sort of filling in a rudimentary pastry made from flour and oil originated in Rome where flour (though poor quality) and olive oil were in abundance. Rye dough filled with goat’s cheese and honey is among the first documented pie recipes from Roman writers.

The European pie’s development, as with many dishes, came down to ingredients that were plentiful locally. In northern Europe, olive oil was harder to come by, and considered a luxury and therefore a little too rich for such a thrifty dish. Cooks in this area favoured solid fats like butter and lard; using these created a mouldable pastry that could be rolled and the pie, as we know it, was born.

The earliest versions of “Pyes” were commonly filled with a variety of meat and were savoury. Pies were a way of making a hearty dish with limited utensils. They were easy to store, simple to cook and easy to carry; you could call them the original Tupperware. Cornish pasties are widely believed to be the first real ‘on the go’ meal. Eaten by workers, in the fields and down in the mines, the crimped edge gave a handle with which to eat even with dirty hands. The crust would then be thrown away.

Pies were not just the food of the common man, they were also enjoyed by the nobility. The great chefs of the time competed to create lavish centrepieces for banquets where live birds, rabbits, frogs and even humans would pop out when the crust was cut. Queen Elizabeth I may have had simpler tastes: she is traditionally credited with inventing the cherry pie which is said to be her favourite.

Missionaries and explorers spread the concept of the meat-based pie across the globe. The English Pilgrims transported their recipes across the ocean to the North American colonies where they are still enjoyed, although Americans today favour sweet fruit pies such as apple, pumpkin and cherry. In WW2 the apple pie became a symbol of national pride in the United States where soldiers fought for “mom and apple pie”.

Whichever way you slice it, the humble pie has a long and interesting history, so we thought that we would honour this pastry delicacy by creating two recipes that are particularly close to our hearts (and stomachs).

Bon appétit

Stargazy Fish pie,

Stargazy pie is a traditional Cornish dish made of baked pilchards along with eggs and potatoes, covered with a pastry crust. The unique feature of stargazy pie is fish heads protruding through the crust, so that they appear to be gazing skyward. 

The dish is traditionally held to have originated from the village of Mousehole in Cornwall and is traditionally eaten during the festival of Tom Bawcock’s Eve to celebrate his heroic catch during a very stormy winter. According to the modern festival, which is combined with the Mousehole village illuminations, the entire catch was baked into a huge stargazy pie, encompassing seven types of fish and saving the village from starvation. The story of Bawcock was popularised by Antonia Barber’s children’s book The Mousehole Cat, which featured the stargazy pie. {Wikipedia}

This version sees delicious succulent langoustines topping out the baked potato mash covered fish pie.

 

 

Oxfordshire Game pie

 

From the UK we crossed the pond to Toronto, Canada, where Chef Kira brought the sweet side of pie to life with her Pumpkin Spice Tarte au Sucre (French Canadian Sugar Pie). Tart au Sucre is part of the culinary lexicon of Quebec, the 2nd most populous province of Canada.  Many of Quebec’s early settlers hailed from the West of France and brought with them a heritage of French cuisine.  The pie was originally made with maple syrup as maple trees are native to the region and brown sugar was scarce and costly.   Today, about 85-90% of all maple syrup produced in Canada comes from Quebec, and constitutes about 70% of the world’s supply, depending on the year and the weather conditions that affect the sap.  As sugar became more available, and affordable, the recipe was updated to utilize brown sugar.  The addition of pumpkin pie spice, while not traditional, adds a subtle warm spice note to the rich caramel flavour of the filling.

From Canada we went South of the Mason-Dixon line to Chef Jake in our Horn Lake, Mississippi location, where he made some Southern Fried Blueberry Pies. Originally called “Crab Lanterns” because of the slits used to vent the pies and the popular crabapple filling, this style of pie has been around in the Southern United States since 1770.

Next up was a hop, skip and a jump over to Arkansas to Chef Nick, who spiced things up with some Empanadas Gallegas. Gallega is the word used for things made in Galicia, a region in Northwestern Spain.

And our final stop around the world on pie day was the home of our corporate headquarters in Chicago, where Chef Jeff has whipped up another sweet treat: Almond Pear Pie.

If this post has inspired you to try your hand at any of our recipes, please post them and tag us on social media.

And of course, a big thank you to our Culinary Team.

Posted in: Culinary, Recipes

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