Five things you didn’t know about the history of pie

Most of us are narrow minded when it comes to our pie. When we get a slice, we sit down and eat it- sometimes devour it – never stopping to think about why we have pie in the first place.

Sure, it may not make the pie taste any better, but it’s interesting to note the lineage of pie itself. Learning more about the history of pie can help us appreciate it that much more.

Here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the history of our favorite baked dessert.

1. Bake like an Egyption
The first pies appeared around 9500 BC, in the Egyptian Neolithic period or New Stone Age, when the use of stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding became common, the domestication of plants and animals, the establishment of permanent villages, and the practice of crafts such as pottery and weaving. Early pies were known as galettes, wrapping honey as a treat inside a cover of ground oats, wheat, rye or barley. These galettes developed into a form of early sweet pastry or desserts, evidence of which can be found on the tomb walls of the Pharaoh Ramesses II, who ruled from 1304 to 1237 BC, located in the Valley of the Kings. Sometime before 2000 BC, a recipe for chicken pie was written on a tablet in Sumer.

2. Give me a hummingbird pie to go
In the 12th century in England, song birds were a fine delicacy, and protected by Royal Law. At the coronation of eight-year old English King Henry VI in 1429, “Partryche and Pecock enhackyll” pie was served, consisting of cooked peacock mounted in its skin on a peacock filled pie. Cooked birds were frequently placed by European royal cooks on top of a large pie to identify its contents, leading to its later adaptation in pre-Victorian times as a porcelain ornament to release of steam and identify a good pie.

3. First pies in North America
The Pilgrims and early settlers brought their pie recipes with them to North America, adapting to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. Their first pies were based on berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native North Americans. Pies allowed colonial cooks to stretch abundant ingredients, while also allowing them to utilize round shallow pans to literally “cut corners,” and create a regional variation of shallow pie. In the 1700s, pioneer women often served pies with every meal, thus firmly cementing this pastry into a unique form of American culture.

4. That’s a Tur-Chick-Ant-Ock!
In the 19th century, Emperor William I of Germany visited Queen Victoria of England, and when he did, his favorite pie was served. And it was quite a whopper! It contained a whole turkey stuffed with a chicken, the chicken stuffed with a pheasant, the pheasant stuffed with a woodcock. Yummy!

5. Finally writing down the recipes
Since pastry was a staple ingredient in Medieval menus, pastry making was taken for granted by the majority of early cookbooks, and recipes were not usually included in them. After all, the pie shell was often the only casing available to hold baked goods. The shell was usually not eaten, and almost every baked meal was a pie as a result. It wasn’t until the 16th century that cookbooks with pastry ingredients began appearing. Historians believe this was because cookbooks started appearing for the general household and not just for professional cooks.


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