The pie is certainly an underrated food item. The fact that it is comprised of delicious, flaky, buttery pastry and contains either sweet and savoury fillings should secure its place in regional cuisine the world over, yet it seems that only the Brits have really embraced this baked treat and continue to celebrate its versatility.
As early as 9500 BC (that’s Before Christ, to you unbelievers) Egyptians were making good use of the ‘pie’ format, wrapping oats, wheat and barley around honey. However, the Greeks were thought to have invented pie pastry as we know it today, making a paste of flour and water and adding fat. In fact (well, according to Wikipedia), Apicius, the first known cookbook (courtesy of the Greeks) contains recipes featuring pie cases.
Pies quickly became a staple of the European diet, as they were easy to cook on an open fire and convenient to take along when you are conquering other countries (as well as pillaging, etc). And with all that conquering came regional variations, with pasties, pot pies, fruit pies and pastries becoming popular the world over.
Savoury pies are definitely a staple of the British diet, with fish pie, meat pie, steak and ale pie, pork pie, quiche, pasties and cottage pie being particular favourites.
As a dessert (or pudding to you Brits, though that makes little to no sense as there is rarely any ‘pudding’ involved) there are many variations: fruit pies (raspberry, apple, blueberry), cream pies (key lime, banana, custard), vegetable pies (sweet potato, pumpkin), and nut pies (pecan). Pies are best served with a cream (iced or not, you decide).
And when you divide the circumference of a pie by the diameter of a pie, you get get another very satisfying sort of pi… 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510…
My personal favourite is Higgidy Pie’s Spinach, Feta and Pine Nut.