Today is March 14, or “3/14,” which are the first three digits of that almost-magical ratio called pi. Sure, we could talk about math and circles…but looking up “pi” just made everyone here at the BRI hungry for “pie” (and pie facts).
Origins of the Word
What’s the origin of the word pie, to describe a crusted food filled with tasty things? It’s from pica, the Latin word for magpie. A pica was the word for the magpie, a bird known to collect random objects. Similarly, the food called pie began as an often random collection of ingredients.
Oldest known pie recipe: There’s an extant one from Ancient Rome for a goat cheese and honey pie made with a rye crust.
May I have a Coffin, Please?
However, another English word for what we call pie was “coffin.” Not because they’re so sinfully delicious, but because in England a few hundred years ago, pies were primarily meat pies with high-sided walls made of crust. Dead flesh in a “box” = coffin.
Between 1657 and 1660, mincemeat pie was banned in England. Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell found the overabundance at Christmastime to be too sinful, so he outlawed and ordered the confiscation of that particular Christmas treat. (When Cromwell lost his head in 1660 and King Charles II took the throne, pie was legalized.)
Annual US Pie Sales
Annual pre-made pie sales at American grocery stories: about $700 million.
What’s Your Favorite?
According to a survey by the American Pie Council (an organization to which we pledge our undying allegiance), the most popular pies, in order, are apple, pumpkin, pecan, banana cream, and cherry.
Pie vs. Cobbler
What’s the difference between pie and cobbler, anyway? They’re mostly the same in terms of crust composition and fruit filling. The main difference: if a pie is topped, it’s topped with a crust made out of the same stuff as the rest of the crust. A cobbler is topped with a different kind of pastry or dough, usually dollops of biscuit dough.
Apple pie is as American as…England. Yep—the classic dessert of the U.S. of A dates to 14th century Great Britain.