We may think of pie as a quintessentially British food invention, but there are records of something like a pie from Ancient Egypt, over 4,000 years ago. Some think this can still be experienced in the modern Egyptian dish “Feteer”.
The Romans enjoyed a pie as well, of course, they did, we don’t seem to be able to discuss the history of any food without the Romans getting a mention. Many believe it was the Roman Empire that spread the idea of pie to all corners. Although their pies used pastry more as a sort of Tupperware of the day, to preserve the filling, and was not designed to be eaten.
This frankly disgraceful disregard for the pastry continued well into Medieval Britain. You may recall Heston Blumenthal’s Medieval Feast where Salt Dough was used to recreating the “4 and 20 Blackbirds baked in a pie” nursery rhyme, rendering the crust more of a salty birdcage.
In fact, the word “Pie” may come from this period.
It is thought by many that the source of the word “pie” comes from the magpie, due to its habit of collecting odds and ends together in one place. Indeed, our medieval ancestors seemingly put everything and anything into pies. This is a habit that seems to have lasted until relatively recently, with the British Library recently tweeting about Parakeet Pie from the Victorian era. The parakeets were sadly no longer able to tweet themselves. Or even squawk.