Pies available at our Italian Pastry Shop include:
A Brief Pie History
Pies both sweet and savoury have been part of the dinner table for centuries. The Romans made the very first pies from goat cheese and honey in a rye crust. Yet, we need to give a nod to the Greeks, who developed the first pie crust, simply using flour and water.
Pie making spread across Europe during the 12th century, and most were filled with meat. Think, lamb, beef, wild duck and pigeon with currents, dates, and savoury spices. By the 14th century pie was considered mainstream, and the Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word pie was very popular then.
Homey apple pies are a North American favourite. Would it surprise you to know that apples first grew in Asia? Then, they were cultivated in Europe. When the European colonists sailed to our continent, they planted apple trees. But, these trees where not for pies. The apples were used for apple cider!
The British had been making a version of apple pie since the 14th century. These pies were savoury and without much of a crust. The Dutch are credited with adding the beautiful lattice crust.
Cherries were first mentioned in 300 BCE, by Greek writer Theophratus. There are two kinds of cherries: sweet and sour. The sweet originated in Europe and western Asia, while the sour were first found in Asia Minor. As for the first cherry pie, historians claim it was made for British Queen Elizabeth I, in the 15th century.
When asked, many people consider blueberry pie their very favourite. Blueberries are indigenous to Northern Europe and North America. First Nations people of Canada used blueberries for both food and medical purposes. It wasn’t until 1872 however when the first blueberry pie recipe appeared. It was in the Appledore Cook Book, in 1872.
Lemon Pies ( and Lemon Meringue too!)
In medieval times, lemon pies were prepared by flavouring custard with lemons. The Romans knew the lemon as Medinans, based on imports from Medina or present-day Iran. Soon lemon cultivation spread. The Spanish brought lemons into England from Spain, as a gift to Queen Eleanor of Castile, in 1289.
Christopher Columbus would travel with lemons for his crew during his voyages into the New World. It wasn’t long before these trees were growing in the Americas.
Elizabeth Goodwell is credited with creating the first lemon meringue pie as we know it today, in 1806. The Philadelphian owner of a pastry shop had too many egg whites. She experimented with whipping them into a topping. (Our lemon pies are the more European style, but we will add meringue on request!)
What would Thanksgiving be without pumpkin pie? Pumpkin was discovered in Central America, during one of Christopher Columbus’ voyages. The crew sailed back with these large orange orbs and soon cooks were trying to figure out exactly what to do with them.
Called pompions by the English after the French word pompon, this fruit ( botanically speaking it bears flowers and has seeds) started to appear in cookbooks by the 17th century. One of the first recipes included boiling the pumpkin in milk, before mashing it and baking it in a crust.
When Amelia Simmons released her cookbook entitled American Cookery, the pumpkin pie recipe was a smash hit. In fact, her version is the same sweet and delicately spiced pumpkin pie we eat today.
And that’s a brief history of pies!
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There is always something fun happening at Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana our Italian pastry shop located in the heart of Ottawa’s Little Italy.