Pies…..They are simple and delicious, and come Thanksgiving, everybody will try to save room for them. The pies we have come to enjoy today are a fairly recent addition to the pie history that goes back as long as mankind has had the dough to bake a crust and the stuff to put inside it.
Contrary to those elementary school plays across the United States, there was no “modern-day” pie, pumpkin, or otherwise at the first Thanksgiving celebration. Pilgrims brought English style (meat-based) recipes with them to the colonies. Pumpkin pie, first recorded in a cookbook in 1675, originated from British boiled and spiced squash, and was not popularized in America until the early 1800s. Because of their crusty tops, pies acted as a way to preserve food, and were often used to keep the filling fresh during the winter months. The colonists cooked many a pie….And they didn’t make bland pies; documents show that they used dried fruit, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg to season the meats in their pies. As the colonies expanded, the pie became a way to showcase local ingredients and with that came a growth of new, sweet pies. A cookbook from 1796 listed only 3 varieties of sweet pies; a cookbook written in the late 1800s featured 8 varieties of sweet pie; and by the 1947 the Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking listed 65 different varieties of sweet pies.
There are few things as American as apple pie (as the saying goes), but like many of America’s pie traditions, the original apple pie recipes came from England. These apple pie prototypes were made with unsweetened apples and encased in a not so light and flakey nor edible crust. Still, the apple pie developed a following, and was even referenced in “Menaphon” (1589) by poet Robert Greene: “Thy breath is like the steeme of apple pies.” Pies have come a long way since the days of magpie and pepper, and are made with everything from apples to avocados, but many bakeries say a classic apple pie remains their top holiday seller.
Whether you prefer apple, pumpkin, berry, pecan, or sweet potato….
Don’t be shy….Have a piece of pie!