A Pie or Not A Pie?

In another incredibly British debate about food (following the infamous Great Jaffa Cake debate) has come another culinary debate; should a casserole with a pastry lid be classed as a pie? Allegedly customers in pubs and restaurants have been outraged when they have ordered what was described as a pie, only to be presented with a casserole with a pastry lid. So, in true British fashion, the government has made an online petition to criminalise describing a casserole with a pasty lid as a pie.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘pie’ as “A baked dish of fruit, meat, fish, or vegetables, covered with pastry (or a similar substance) and frequently also having a base and sides of pastry.” In my opinion, as a casserole is like a stew, with a pastry lid on it it could be counted as a pie. In my opinion, if it’s got pastry on it, it’s a pie. Hell, we’ve got cottage pie, shepherd’s pie, and fish pie, none of which have any pastry on them and we still call those pies. It seems like another nit-picky debate about something that, when you get down to it, isn’t really that important. But we Brits are world-renowned for arguing about absolutely nothing.

Here in Bonnie Scotland, however, we pretty much call anything a pie. If it’s got some form of pastry on it, it’s a pie. Those abominations they sell at football matches? I know they taste great and all, but god knows what’s in them and if your stomach isn’t already used to processing all the deep fat fried anything and sheep organs we Scots call food, I would steer clear of them altogether. My dad used to say that the meat pies sold at football stadiums probably didn’t have any meat in them. Not being one to question what was in my food as long as it tasted good, I didn’t really care. They could have stuffed them with rubber shavings and yoga mats, but they were taaaaasty.

AND ANOTHER THING; macaroni pies. A truly Northern English/Scottish delicacy from Greggs, they are delicious but WHO THE HELL PUTS MAC AND CHEESE IN A PIE. You could probably question everything about Greggs to be honest; personally I would question how Southerners survive without it. Pies are a weird topic, but people are taking this hot-button issue (I use the word ‘issue’ in the loosest possible sense) very, very seriously.

I mean, if you don’t like casseroles and would prefer a pie, wouldn’t it be easier to ask the staff what exactly is in the pie? And the definition of casserole I found on the OED seems pretty similar to what’s in a pie anyway. The petition on the government website starts with, “For too long customers in pubs and restaurants have ordered what is described on the menu as a pie only to be served with casserole in a pot covered by a puff pastry lid. This is not a pie and is also curiously difficult to consume.”

For fucks’ sake, they make it sound like a damn pie revolution. Does this really warrant government legislation on the wording of menus? I mean, can you imagine the police coming into your restaurant with a warrant to try this ‘pie’ and see if it really is a pie as there have been allegations that it is, in fact, a casserole.

Fair enough, hilarious arguments between policemen over the topic would ensue. This debate has even less grounding than the Jaffa Cake debate (which at least was about VAT). This is one of the most British things I have ever seen bested only by our ability to apologise for everything, and it does make me a wee bit proud to come from a country that can get so pointlessly angry.

If anything should be banned by legislation, it’s calling a mince pie, a mince pie. I was crestfallen when I first tried one, and discovered there was no actual meat in it. Not to say I don’t love them, but why mince? (Yeah, I know the fruit is technically minced, but I still stick to my claim that it’s more misleading than this pastry-lidded casserole shite). It also angers me greatly that they are only sold around Christmas; I am an adult and if I want to eat a mince pie in June then why shouldn’t I be able to? Any road up, the pastry makes the pie. For god’s sake, if you’re going to get indignant about being wrongfully presented with a casserole, order something else. I heard the fish and chips is decent.

If you have absolutely nothing better to do, and for some reason you feel strongly about the pie-eater’s plight, go sign this pointless petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/64629

[Rachael Hannah – @rachaelhannah21]

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