British Pie Week

From the 2nd until the 6th March it's British Pie Week which means we'll be serving up some delicious pies in The Grill, a different one each day in fact, created by our brilliant Kitchen team.

But how did the traditional pie come about?

Pie-like dishes have been around since the ancient Egyptians, but the idea of enclosing a filling inside a sort-of-pastry made from flour and oil actually originated in ancient Rome. The first published recipe featured a decadent rye dough filled with goat’s cheese and honey – surprisingly delicious sounding for ancient Roman food!

However, the pie we know and love today has its roots in Northern Europe. Back in the day, olive oil was scarce to nonexistent in the region. Instead, butter and lard were the fats of choice in the harsher and colder climes north of the Mediterranean. The use of these solid fats created a pastry that could be rolled and moulded – and so the true pie was born.

The early “pyes” were predominately meat pies. In the 12th century, the need for nutritious, long-lasting food that was easy to store and carry, particularly at sea, was initially solved by taking livestock along with a butcher or cook. Needless to say, the ships quickly became pretty cramped, so a solution was found – a crust! The hardened pastry packages were not necessarily eaten – think of them as disposable medieval Tupperware. Fruit pies did not appear until the late 16th century, when Queen Elizabeth I was served the first cherry pie.

In medieval times, pie crusts were thick and could be baked first, rising to form a pot – hence the term “pot pie”. Contrary to the popular nursery rhyme, the birds were not actually baked in the pie, but rather placed under the removable lid after cooking and unveiled before the excited host of the banquet. Chefs would get quite competitive at feasts and try to outdo other lords and ladies’ cooks. It is said that not only were birds “baked” into pies, but also rabbits, frogs, dogs, dwarves (who would pop out and recite poetry) and at one time a whole musical troupe! 

Our pies at the VSC are more modern, take a look at the menu here

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