The Great British Pie

Today marks the start of British Pie Week, long blocked off in our calendars as a 7 day homage to the greatest idea in British food history: Pie.

The first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age, but these early pies were in the form of galettes wrapping honey inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes developed into a form of early sweet pastry or desserts, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II.

However, the first reference to “pyes” as food items appeared in England as early as the 12th century and at the coronation of eight-year old King Henry VI in 1429, “Partryche and Pecock enhackyll” pie was served, consisting of cooked peacock mounted in its skin on a peacock filled pie.

The Pilgrim fathers and early settlers then brought their pie recipes with them to America and based them on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans. Most people have of course heard of American Pie (even if they’ve got no idea what on earth Don McLean’s singing about).

Now, I don’t think there exists a pie that does not appeal to and satisfy each and every one of my taste buds. Choosing the greatest however, is a serious dilemma. Thanks to British Pie Week, I can instead narrow down my list of favourites to seven, one for each day, doubtless to include:

Fish Pie – one of my favourite non-pastry pies. White fish, prawns, boiled eggs and béchamel sauce, throw in some peas and top with mashed potato. Be sure to poach the fish in milk before using that same milk to make the sauce.
Pork Pie – such a wonderful invention, popular among fox hunters in the Melton Mowbray area during the late nineteenth century.
Chicken Pie – always my response growing up when mum promised to cook my “favourite meal”. Traditionally, an effective means of using up the leftover roast.
Homity Pie – a Great British open vegetable pie, dating back to the efforts of the Land girls of the Second World War and the restrictions imposed by wartime rationing.
Cornish Pasty – an English word for a meat pie baked without a dish, which has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe and is, unequivocally, yummy.
Cherry Pie – a sweet pie with a strong history in the United States and my dessert preference over apple pie.

There’s a space for one final contender. Which pie would you suggest fills it?

One thought on “The Great British Pie

  1. Hi Jo,

    I paid homage to British Pie Week enjoying a fine Pork, Cider and mustard pie last week with a side of mash and cabbage…a true delight!


    ps – i’m heckling!


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