The Pie’s the Limit

Now is the time of year families are left regretting the size of turkey they bought for Christmas day. Endless turkey sandwiches, curries and pies will be consumed over the coming days.

I would like to draw attention in particular to the humble pie. When is a pie actually a pie? For me, it is a sweet or savoury dish COMPLETELY encased in pastry. The type of pastry is less of a concern, puff pastry is probably my favourite, but I wouldn’t say no to a hot water crust or shortcrust pie. I would, however, suggest that choux pastry is left for profiteroles and eclairs and isn’t suitable for pies.

Nothing infuriates me more than walking into a nice little pub ordering a pie and being greeted with a casserole with puff pastry on top. This situation is made even worse when the pie in question has clearly been cooked separately. The filling cooked in a dish and the pastry on a baking sheet and then painfully balanced near the pie filling when served.


Mention a tart, and people instantly picture a pastry base and an open top, some of the “pies” without complete encasement are no more than an upside down tart. There is also the problem of the cottage or shepherd’s pie – a linguist may refer to these as a false friend – there is no pastry anywhere to be seen, yet they still carry the pie name. What else would you call it? Or potentially even more confusingly, a lemon meringue pie, pastry base but not a pastry top – but the lemon filling is completely encased.

While this may not be a problem that affects us on a daily basis, there is one day a year when this is highly important – the pie awards. This event only allows dishes that are a proper pie – a full pastry surround. If the pie awards do not allow the casserole impostor I don’t think it is too ask for those carrying the pie name to follow their rules too.


2 thoughts on “The Pie’s the Limit

  1. So true! The pie has grown arms and legs in terms of what qualifies. The idea of an open top pie seems totally mad. They do great pies here in NZ, so much better than back home in the UK (generally), although the pork pie hasn’t found its way here. I used to work with a Maori fella who had had a holiday in the UK and asked for a pork pie heated up, which the shopkeeper complied with after a quizzical look…and apparently all of the jelly ran out. Sounds like a mistake you only make once. 😄


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