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The History of the Pie

The pie is one of the most loved foods amongst the Brits, and it may come as no surprise that every month we each tuck into an average of 2.2 pies. The pie (whether it’s hot or cold) has been named one of the most popular ‘comfort foods’ and is known for being a popular dish served in traditional pubs across the UK. Of course, it’s obvious we love pies, but do we know where they came from? If you’re a die-hard pie fan, or are simply intrigued, find out the surprising history of the pie below.

Everything you Need to Know About the History of the Pie

It’s interesting to see the journey of evolution when considering the history of the pie. With all the variations and flavours now circulating around, you might be surprised when you find out the origin of the creation.

Who Invented the Pie?

Believe it or not, it was in fact the Ancient Egyptians who were the first to create a dish that is similar to what we now know as a pie. Typically, they filled their ‘pies’ with honey and covered them in a crusty cake made from oats, wheat, rye and barley. It is also rumoured that a recipe for a chicken pie was discovered on a tablet carved prior to 2000 BC (a long time ago!). Further down the timeline, The Ancient Greeks were believed to have invented pie pastry that is more similar to what we eat nowadays. The Ancient Romans then took the dish further by modifying it to hold meats and juices, but it was not intended to be eaten. Then the building of roads began, and so the ‘pie’ made its way around Europe, evolving at every destination. 

History of the Pie in Europe

When the pie arrived in Britain in around the 14th century, the word ‘pie’ was in circulation with a Medieval Latin meaning of ‘meat and fish encased in pastry’. Pies were also not intended for eating - they were commonly used to help meats last longer on sea voyages as they could be stacked easier. By the Medieval period, pies were used as a centrepiece for large banquets for important people at exclusive events. Anything would be baked inside the pies and the surprise of the lid unveiling was used to impress guests.

Pies and the Queen

During the age of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, the pie came out in full force. Due to the pies' ties to banquets and luxury, the very first cherry pie was presented to Elizabeth I- and it is reported that her opinion is unknown to this day! Her feedback can’t have been too bad, as this then introduced the notion of eating pies with a sweeter filling for a dessert, which was then used throughout Shakespearean plays to disguise poison.

Did you know?

The festive ‘mince pie’ can be traced back to the 13th century, when European crusaders returned from the Middle East with recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. This version of the mince pie was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone during the lead up to Christmas- a tradition that has continued to modern day. But due to their religious connection, Oliver Cromwell banned mince pies during his reign in the 17th century. So for 16 years, pie eating and making went underground and was enjoyed in secret until 1660. Now that we can enjoy pies, what's your favourite?

Fancy a Pie?

From learning about the history of the pie, it’s no surprise as to why we Brits take pride in the traditional meat and fish pie (as they are the best!). The sweeter options like pumpkin, key lime and apple pie have now been adapted by our American friends across the pond. Has talking about the history of the pie made you fancy one? Browse our selection and treat yourself to handcrafted, delicious pies delivered to your door. We have meat, vegetarian and vegan options available, a pie for everyone!

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Ian, Midhurst

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