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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Meat Pies..Around ethe World

Guest Blogger :Chelsea Pullano

Mrs. Lovett, the character in Stephen Sondheim's  famed musical, Sweeney Todd  (recently appearing at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival)  is a woman well known for her meat pies (despite her gruesome manner of preparation). A meat pie is a pie with a filling of meat and other savory ingredients. Meat pies are not common in the United States, but are a regular meal in Britain, Canada, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Greece, India, and Middle Eastern countries often make meat pies as well. It is important to note that there are many regional differences in the contents of meat pies. An Irish meat pie is the Steak and Guinness Pie, which consists of steak with Guinness Stout Beer, bacon, and onions. In both Australia and New Zealand, the meat pie is a common convenience food often found in gas stations and convenience stores. Greek meat pies are called kreatopita and contain ground beef, onions and feta cheese. Indian meat pies are called samosa and usually contain peas, spiced potatoes, coriander, lentils, or ground beef or chicken and are often served with chutney. Middle Eastern meat pies are called sfiha and contain ground beef, olive oil, plain yogurt, tahini, allspice, onion, tomatoes and pine nuts. Latin American countries often make a variation of the meat pie that is more portable, known as a meat empanada, and Nigerian meat pies are also closer to this design than the British meat pie represented in the play.
The earliest meat pies can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians in the Neolithic period. As early as 9500B.C. the Egyptians made pies from oat, wheat, rye, and barley, and filled with honey and baked over hot coals. With time, the Greeks adopted these pies, and it was in Greece that a pie pastry crust made from flour and water was first filled with meat. The Romans adopted the cuisine from the Greeks with very few changes. The crusaders brought these recipes back to Medieval Europe, where it became a dietary staple. Cooks used ingredients like lard and butter to mold the flour-water mixture into the upright pie we recognize today. From Europe, missionaries and explorers spread the meat pie worldwide, where it has developed the many varieties discussed above

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