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A Brief History of Pie!

A Brief History of Pie 

It occurred to us that whilst most people know the story about how the sandwich came about (see footnote if you don’t)! The history of pie is relatively unknown! We thought we should write a short(crust) history of pie starting from 2000BC! 

Pie dishes have been around since the ancient Egyptians. They had a honey filling covered in a crusty cake made from oats, wheat, rye or barley. A recipe for chicken pie has even been discovered on a tablet carved before 2000 BC.

The idea of enclosing a filling inside a pastry made using fat and flour actually started in ancient Rome. The pastry wasn’t originally intended to be eaten, it was to preserve the delicious juices and flavours.

A Roman cookbook written in the first century featured an indulgent rye dough filled with goat’s cheese and honey, and as the Romans travelled, so did their recipes. Next time you wonder what the Romans did for us, you can add introducing pies to the English on the list!

The first time the word ‘Pye’ was recorded in a dictionary was in the 14th Century and it meant ‘meat or fish enclosed in pastry’. 

The pastry case back then was called a coffin and if the filling was fowl, you could tell as the legs would be dangling over the sides! (Now I know why Desperate Dan’s Cow Pie still had the horns on!)

In the medieval times pies were the ‘piece de resistance’ at banquets. Anything and everything would be baked inside this could even include bands of musicians! (Hopefully hidden after baking!)

As the English embarked on colonising the world, it was only natural that pies came too! The adventurous English sailors loved the idea of pies! Not only did the pastry cases help the filling last longer on sea voyages but they also saved space in the hold. Having a hold stacked with pies was a far more sensible use of space instead of bringing a cook and livestock along for the journey.

So pie came to America with the first English settlers. If you hear the term ‘as American as apple pie.’ Remember where the pie originated!

Fast forward to 1930 where in a small Yorkshire village store Great Grandad Sturdy started making his own Yorkshire Handmade Pies to sell, which unknown to him would become an award winning family tradition!   

So there you have it -  a history spanning from BC to present day! Pies have been on a great journey through the ages evolving with our needs and changing tastes. Where will they go next? 

*The 4th Earl of Sandwich asked for a serving of roast beef between two slices of bread so he could eat with his hand creating the first recorded roast beef sandwich!