What is a pie?
“a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry: ‘a meat pie’” https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pie
Pies have been around for thousands of years, perhaps as early as the 2nd century. The Egyptians may have been the ones who first came up with the idea of filling dough with a mixture of fruit and a sweetener. The earliest pie crusts were not made to be eaten but were simply a way of putting a filling into a container that would serve as a baking and serving dish.
As the technique for pie making spread from the Egyptians to the Greeks and then to the Romans, the recipe for the crust evolved from a simple flour and water crust that was virtually inedible to a more tender crust that was consumed with the filling. Early fillings were often meat-based and could be carried out to the field on a work day, down to the coal mines, or on a pilgrimage.
Between the 13th and 16th centuries the royalty had a rollicking good time with these pies. Remember “Sing a song of sixpence”, where four and twenty blackbirds were baked in a pie? Those poor birds were not the only things bakers put in pies. They also made pies big enough to hold a dwarf, a few small animals, or a little orchestra. And, no, those were not made to be eaten.
Pies made their way to America on the Mayflower and became very popular over the years. They became favorite foods served at home, at church suppers, and in diners as well as fine restaurants. There are pie eating contests, pie tossing games, and the famous cream-pie-in-the-face routine.
February is a short and cold month; why not warm it up with a nice piece of pie? Come visit the library and browse the cookbook section (641.5) to find a pie for every meal of the day. You will find recipes for breakfast quiche, Cornish pasty for lunch, and shepherd’s pie for dinner. There are so many choices for your dessert pie, but you will surely find one that is just right for you in United States of pie: regional favorites from East to West and North to South by Adrienne Kane. Look for books on pies and pastry under the call number 641.8652 in the non-fiction section, and in our rotunda display.