Pie - Pie History
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The first pies, called "coffins" or "coffyns" (the word actually meant a basket or box) were savory meat pies with the crusts or pastry being tall, straight-sided with sealed-on floors and lids. Open-crust pastry (not tops or lids) were known as "traps." These pies held assorted meats and sauce components and were baked more like a modern casserole with no pan (the crust itself was the pan, its pastry tough and inedible). These crust were often made several inches thick to withstand many hours of baking. According to Janet Clarkson in her book, Pie: A Global History:
A small pie was known as a tartlet and a tart was a large, shallow open pie (this is still the definition in England). Since pastry was a staple ingredient in medieval menus, pastry making was taken for granted by the majority of early cookbooks, and recipes are not usually included. It wasn't until the 16th century that cookbooks with pastry ingredients began appearing. Historian believe this was because cookbooks started appearing for the general household and not just for professional cooks.
1545 - A cookbook from the mid 16th century that also includes some account of domestic life, cookery and feasts in Tudor days, called A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe dayes, has a recipe for a short paest for tarte:
1553 - From the English translation by Valoise Armstrong of the 1553 German cookbook Kochbunch der Sabina Welserine, includes a recipe for pastry dough:
1304 to 1237 B.C. - The bakers to the pharaohs incorporated nuts, honey, and fruits in bread dough, a primitive form of pastry. Drawings of this can be found etched on the tomb walls of Ramses II, located in the Valley of the Kings. King Ramses II was the third pharaoh in the 19th dynasty. He ruled from 1304 to 1237 B.C.
The tradition of galettes was carried on by the Greeks. Historians believe that the Greeks actually originated pie pastry. The pies during this period were made by a flour-water paste wrapped around meat; this served to cook the meat and seal in the juices.
The Romans, sampling the delicacy, carried home recipes for making it (a prize of victory when they conquered Greece). The wealthy and educated Romans used various types of meat in every course of the meal, including the dessert course (secundae mensea). According to historical records, oysters, mussels, lampreys, and other meats and fish were normal in Roman puddings. It is thought that the puddings were a lot like pies..
160 B.C. - The Roman statesman, Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 B.C.), also know as Cato the Elder, wrote a treatise on agriculture called De Agricultura. He loved delicacies and recorded a recipe for his era's most popular pie/cake called Placenta. They were also called libum by the Romans, and were primarily used as an offering to their gods. Placenta was more like a cheesecake, baked on a pastry base, or sometimes inside a pastry case.
The delights of the pie spread throughout Europe, via the Roman roads, where every
country adapted the recipes to their customs and foods.
Animated pies or pyes were the most popular banquet entertainment. The nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence . . . four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie," refers to such a pie. According to the rhyme, "When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing. Wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the King." In all likelihood, those birds not only sang, but flew briskly out at the assembled guests. Rabbits, frogs, turtles, other small animals, and even small people (dwarfs) were also set into pies, either alone or with birds, to be released when the crust was cut. The dwarf would emerge and walk down the length of the table, reciting poetry, sketching the guests, or doing tricks.
13th Century - A Tortoise or Mullet Pie was in the 13th century cookbook called An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century, translated by Charles Perry:
14th Century - During Charles V (1364-1380), King of France, reign, the important event at banquets was not dishes of food but acts such as minstrels, magicians, jugglers, and dancers.
The chefs entered into the fun by producing elaborate "soteltie" or "subtilty." Sotelties were food disguised in an ornamental way (sculptures made from edible ingredients but not always intended to be eaten or even safe to eat). In the 14th to 17th centuries, the sotelty was not always a food, but any kind of entertainment to include minstrels, troubadours, acrobats, dancers and other performers. The sotelty was used to alleviate the boredom of waiting for the next course to appear and to entertain the guest. If possible, the sotelty was supposed to make the guests gasp with delight and to be amazed at the ingenuity of the sotelty maker.
During this time period, the Duke of Burgundy's chef made an immense pie which opened to the strains of 28 musicians playing from within the pie. Out of the pie came a captive girl representing the "captive" Church in the Middle East.
15th Century - At the coronation of eight-year old English King Henry VI (1422-1461) in 1429, a partridge pie, called "Partryche and Pecock enhackyll," was served. This dish consisted of a cooked peacock mounted in its skin, placed on top of a large pie.. Other birds like partridges, swans, bitterns and herons were frequently placed on top of pies for ornament and as a means of identifying the contents.
1626 - Jeffrey Hudson (1619-1682), famous 17th century dwarf, was served up in a cold pie as a child. England's King Charles I (1600-1649) and 15-year old Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669) passed through Rutland and were being entertained at a banquet being given in their honor by the Duke and Duckess of Buckingha. At the dinner, an enormous crust-covered pie was brought before the royal couple. Before the Queen could cut into the pie, the crust began to rise and from the pie emerged a tiny man, perfectly proportioned boy, but only 18 inches tall named Jeffrey Hudson. Hudson, seven years old the smallest human being that anyone had ever seen, was dressed in a suit of miniature armor climbed out of a gilded pastry pie stood shyly on the table in front of the Queen and bowed low. Hudson was later dubbed Lord Minimus.
Hudson would remain with the queen for the next 18 years, serving as the Queen's Dwarf, where he became a trusted companion and court favorite. His life after being a court favorite were just as interesting. He was kidnapped by pirates twice, in 1633, his portrait, along with Queen Henrietta Maria, was painted by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641), the famous 17th century painter, and then he spent the next quarter-century as a slave in North Africa.
16th Century - In the English translated version of Epulario (The Italian Banquet), published in 1598, the following is written on making pies:
17th, 18th and 19th Century
English and American Pies:
English women were baking pies long before the settlers came to America. The pie was an English specialty that was unrivaled in other European cuisines. Two early examples of the English meat pies were shepherd's pie and cottage pie. Shepherd's pie was made with lamb and vegetables, and the cottage pie was made with beef and vegetable. Both are topped with potatoes.
1620 - The Pilgrims brought their favorite family pie recipes with them to America. The colonist and their pies adapted simultaneously to the ingredients and techniques available to them in the New World. At first, they baked pie with berries and fruits pointed out to them by the Native Americans. Colonial women used round pans literally to cut corners and stretch the ingredients (for the same reason they baked shallow pies).
1700s - Pioneer women often served pies with every meal, thus firmly cementing this pastry into a unique form of American culture. With food at the heart of gatherings and celebrations, pie quickly moved to the forefront of contests at county fairs, picnics, and other social events. As settlers moved westward, American regional pies developed. Pies are continually being adapted to changing conditions and ingredients.
Rev. George Acrelius published in Stockhold in 1796, A Description of the Present and Former State at the Swedish Congregations in New Sweden, where he describes the eating of apple pie all the year:
A Pie of Sweetbreads was one of George Washington's, the first President of the United States, favorite pie recipes, which are taken from Martha's Historic Cook Book, a possessions of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. Martha Washington (1731-1802) was an excellent cook and the book features some of the dishes that were prepared by the original First Lady in her colonial kitchen at Mount Vernon. Following is the modern-day version of the recipe:
1800s - Whenever Emperor William I of Germany visited Queen Victoria (1819-1901) of England, his favorite pie was served. It contained a whole turkey stuffed with a chicken, the chicken stuffed with a pheasant, the pheasant stuffed with a woodcock.
1880-1910 - Samuel Clemens (1835-1910), a.k.a. Mark Twain, was a big fan of eating pies. His life-long housekeeper and friend (she was with the family for 30 years), Katy Leary, often baked Huckleberry pie to lure her master into breaking his habit of going without lunch. According to The American Heritage Cookbook, Katy Leary said in her book on Mark Twain:
During a trip to Europe in 1878, he felt nothing but disdain for the European food he encountered. He composed a list of foods that he looked forward to eating on his return to the United States. In his 1880 book, A Tramp Abroad, he wrote: "It has now been many months, at the present writing, since I have had a nourishing meal, but I shall soon have one--a modest, private affair, all to myself. I have selected a few dishes, and made out a little bill of fare, which will go home in the steamer that precedes me, and be hot when I arrive. . ." On his long list of foods was apple pie, peach pie, American mince pie, pumpkin pie, and squash pie. He also had a recipe for English Pie:
- The appetite of James Buchanan Brady (1856-1917), known as Diamond Jim Brady,
a legendary glutton and ladies' man, was awesome. One dinner that Brady particularly liked
to recall was arranged by architect Stanford White (1853-1906). A huge pie was wheeled in,
a dancer emerged, unclothed, and walked the length of the banquet table, stopping at
Brady's seat and falling into his lap. As she spoon-fed the millionaire, more dancers
appeared and attended to the feeding needs of the other guests. Brady was known to finish
lunch with an array of pies (not slices of different pies, but several pies). It was said
that would begin his meal by sitting six inches from the table and would quit only when
his stomach rubbed uncomfortably against the edge. Charles Rector, owner of " Rector's Restaurant" on Broadway in
New York said he was "the best twenty-five customers I ever
A child`s history of England, by Charles Dickens; with illustrations by Marcus Stone.
A Lifetime With Mark Twain: The Memories of Katy Leary, for Thirty Years His Faithful and Devoted Servant, by Mary Lawton, Fredonia Books (NL); December 1, 2003.
American Cookery:or the art of dressing viands, fish, poultry and vegetables, and the best modes of making puff-pastes, pies, tarts, puddings, custard and preserves, and all kind of cakes, from the imperial plumb to plain cake, by Amelia Simmons, an American Orphan (A Facsimile of American Cookery printed in 1796, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1958).
An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the Thirteenth Century, Charles Perry translation, published in A Collection of Medieval and Renaissance Cookbooks, Duke Sir Cariadoc of the Bow, 1987.
Apple Pie, The 17th and 18th Centuries Cooking Comes to the New World, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA.
A Proper newe Booke of Cokerye, declarynge what maner of meates be beste in season, for al times in the yere, and how they ought to be dressed, and serued at the table, bothe for fleshe dayes, and fyshe dayes, Catherine Frances (editor), Imprynted at London in Crede Lane by John Kynge and Thomas Marche.
Bake Metes and Mince Pies, Historic Foods, by Ivan Day, 2003.
Gode Cookery Presents, Tales of the Middle Ages, True stories, fables and anecdotes from the Middle Ages.
Jeffrey Hudson - The Story Behind the Name, Peterborough & District Branch of CAMRA.
History of Pie a la Mode, Cambridge Hotel.
I'll Have What They're Having - Legendary Local Cuisine, by Linda Stradley, Globe Pequot Press, Guilford, Connecticut, 2002.
Kochbunch der Sabina Welserine, translation b Valoise Armstrong.
Lord Minimus: The Extraordinary Life of Britain's Smallest Man, by Nick Page, HarperCollins, 2002.
Medieval Pastry, by Jessica Tiffin.
Mince Pie - What is it? by Judith Hesp, Chadds Ford Historical Society.
Old Time Recipes, by Harriet W. Luebker, Antique Auction and Marketplace.
One Continuous Picnic: A History of Eating in Australia, The Pudding That Took a Thousand Cooks, by Michael Symons, Duck Press, Adelaide, 1982.
Oxford English Dictionary, Volume III, 1982.
Pie: A Global History, by Janet Clarkson.
Platina, B., De honesta voluptate: the first dated cookery book, Venice: L. de Auila, 1475, translated by Elizabeth Buermann Andrews. St. Louis: Malinckrodt Chemical Works (Malinckrodt Collection of Food Classics, vol. 5), 1967.
Pumpion Pie, The 17th and 18th Centuries Cooking Comes to the New World, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Plymouth, MA.
Royal Cookbook, by the Editorial Staff of Parents' Magazine, Parents' Mazagine Press, New York.
Shoofly Pie, Amish Country News, Your Guide to Pennsylvania's Amish Country.
Swan among the Indians: life of James G. Swan, 1818-1900; based upon Swan's hitherto unpublished diaries and journals, by Lucile Saunders McDonald, Portland, Or., Binfords & Mort, 1972.
The American Heritage Cookbook and Illustrated History of American Eating & Drinking, by the Editors of American Heritage, The Magazine of History, American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc, Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1964.
The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Merritt Farmer, 7th Edition, Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1943
The Complete Works of Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad, Chapter XLIX.
The Delectable Past, by Esther B. Aresty, Simon and Schuster, 1964.
The Demoiselles Tatin's Apple Tart, Flavors of France.
The French Cook, Francois Pierre La Varenne , Translated into English in 1653 by I.D.G., Introduced by Philip and Mary Hyman [East Sussex:Southover Press} 2001 (p. 199-200)
The History of Tarte Tartin at Lamotte-Beuvron.
The Pleasures of the Table, compiled by Theodora Fitzgibbon, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, Toronto, Melbourne, 1981.>
The Searchable Chamber's 1864 "The Book of Days, Emmitsburg Area Historical Society, an internet web site.
This Thanksgiving Staple Has a Surprising History, Valley News, November 27, 2002.
The Tombe of Ramesses II and Remains of His Funerary Treasure, by Christian LeBlanc
The World is Turned Upside Down, 1646.
William King, Arbuthnot and Lesser Prose Writers, Bartleby.com.