Pies – 10 Interesting Facts

Adored around the world, a pie is a baked dish, made with a pastry dough that contains a filling of either sweet and savoury ingredients. There are many different varieties of pie, in all different shapes and sizes, with the type usually defined by the crust. Pies have become commonplace, with variants served at all meal times and many forming part of cultural traditions. Discover 10 interesting facts about pies and astound others with your knowledge of this versatile dish.

Steak & Carrot Pot Pies
Steak and Carrot Pie

1. Galettes were the first pie-like dish
The earliest form of pie dates back to the Ancient Egyptians. These rustic free-form pies, known as galettes, had a crust made of barley, oats, wheat or rye that encased a filling of honey. The galettes became an early form of sweet pastry. Depictions of this early form of pie were found on the walls of the tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the Valley of the Kings.

2. The Ancient Greeks developed pastry
The development of pie pastry is accredited to the Ancient Greeks, who differentiated between the baker and the pastry chef. They enjoyed small sweet pastries filled with fruit, which earnt mention in the plays of Aristophanes.

3. The concept of pie was spread by the Romans
The Romans greatly developed the early forms of pie, creating the idea of a pie crust that could be used to cover the meat or seafood within, preserving the flavour and juices as it cooked. The crust was not intended for consumption and this idea was continued in early Britain, who called the pastry encasing a ‘coffyn’. Roman cookbooks also include a dish akin to the modern cheesecake. As the Romans spread through Europe so did their pie recipes.

4. Medieval pies were an extravagant affair
In Medieval Britain, a pie would often be a centre piece for banquets. It became competitive between chefs, all seeking to outdo one another. The pies would contain an array of meats, game, spices and dried fruits, cooked in a pot-like crust. Birds would often be placed on top to identify the contents of the pie, with birds such as magpies, blackbirds, swans and peacocks being eaten in this period. Sometimes live birds would lie await within, released to entertain the guests. Sometimes even live musicians, dwarfs or other entertainers would be built into large pies as a surprise.

5. The most expensive pie was £8195 per slice
The Guinness world records declare the most expensive pie to be that ordered by 8 guests at the Fence Gate Inn in Lancashire, in the UK. The pie cost an astounding 8195 GBP per slice. The pie contained Japanese wagyu beef fillet, precious Chinese matsutake mushrooms, winter black truffles, french bluefoot mushrooms, and a gravy made with vintage wine and a pastry decorated with edible gold leaf.

6. Mince pies were previously banned in England
Eating mince pies at Christmastime dates back to the 13th century, when crusaders bought the recipe back from their travels. When Cromwell ruled the British Isles, he banned all forms of pagan pleasure, which included Christmas traditions like eating mince pies. The ban lasted 16 years and was thankfully lifted in 1660.

7. The first cherry pie was served to royalty
Cherry pie is now a widely adored dessert, but the first ever slice of cherry pie was reportedly served in the 16th century to Queen Elizabeth I. Some credit her with coming up with the idea, or even baking it herself, whilst others claim it was created for her.

8. Americans did not invent apple pie
Contrary to popular belief, it was the English who invented apple pies. It spread to America where it is now a much loved dish. Pumpkin pie is another staple pie and a common dish for Thanksgiving. Pumpkin pie was first introduced in American at the pilgrim’s second Thanksgiving in 1623.

9. The word ‘pie’ may originate from magpie
It is thought that name pie could stem from the word magpie. Magpies are known for gathering up lots of odds and ends to store in their nests and likewise, a pie is a collection of ingredients contained with pastry.

10. There is a place called Pie Town
In New Mexico, USA there is a town called Pie Town, where they hold an annual pie festival every September which includes pie making-contests.

Now you can safely call yourself a true pie connoisseur, with your newly found knowledge of all things pie!