Food fight

I’m amused to see the to-and-fro between pie-lovers (?) in England.

When is a pie not a pie? As British Pie Week begins, it’s a hot topic for lovers of all things pastry-encased. Pies hit the news last year when one incensed citizen launched a Government e-petition to “make wrongly describing a casserole with a pastry lid a criminal offence”. The petition got just over 5,000 signatures, falling somewhat short of the 100K needed to be considered for a debate in Parliament. Yet, gathering by reactions the petition had online and among pie makers, it’s clearly a topic many Brits take seriously.

So, is a true pie one which is fully covered in pastry, with a base, sides and lid? The creator of the pie-tition, one ‘Bill T Wulf’, certainly thought so. Wulf says the Oxford English Dictionary defines a pie as “a baked dish of fruit, or meat or vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry”. However, my Sixth edition of the OED describes a pie as “encased in or covered with pastry”. The online version of the OED says a pie “frequently also has a base and sides”. Meanwhile, according to the excellent Oxford Companion to Food, the meaning of the word pie has evolved over many centuries and varies according to both country and region.

These definitions make a hard-line stance harder to support – surely there’s room for a puff-pastry topped steak and ale, a fluffy cottage pie, or a sharp and sweet lemon meringue under the pie umbrella? Not if you ask the organisers of the British Pie Awards. Only pies with ‘a filling totally and wholly encased in pastry’ are eligible for the annual awards.

. . .

O’Callaghan tells me that there’s never really been any serious debate about allowing in lattice tops, and I’m told by someone else involved in the awards that when the issue was raised a few years ago it was shouted down with cries of “we might as well let quiches in”.

As for fish pie, cottage, shepherd’s or any other midweek favourite crowned with mash, they’re not allowed near the British Pie Awards either. “Potato-topped pies aren’t pies,” says O’Callaghan firmly … As for lemon-meringue and open-faced arrivistes from across the pond like pumpkin and pecan, they are not pies…but ‘tarts’. “We don’t want tarts anywhere near the British Pie Awards.”

There’s more at the link.

It’s always funny to see the outrage when devotees of a particular food try to defend its purity, origins, etc. against imitators.  I mean, the stuff goes down the same hole and passes through the same digestive tract.  By the time it comes out, I defy anyone to identify it!

If it tastes good, I’ll eat it.  That simplifies matters no end.  As for American Pie . . . no food awards for that one!



  1. "I defy anyone to identify it!"

    Well, if whole-kernel corn is an ingredient, or grape-flavored soda…

    Yes, I went there! And I'm proud, do you hear? Proud!

  2. Reminds me the discussion years ago on defining what Bar-B-Q is ….and yes the government got involved ……


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