The origination and history of meat pies can be traced back to the Neolithic period by the ancient Egyptians, around 9500 BC. This diet was made from oat, rye, wheat, honey and barley. Hot coals were predominantly used while baking meat pies.
The Greeks, also suspected to be one of the founders of meat pies used water and flour paste. Additionally, they filled it with meat before frying or cooking under hot coals. Later, the romans also adopted them and mostly used crust during the baking, storing and serving process. The crust which was several inches thick was later thrown away because it was hard to eat. The Romans’ pie filling mainly consisted of meat, sea fish, oysters, mussels and lampreys. It is suggested that the crusts were eaten by the servants while the masters of the house ate the fillings.
Meat pies were later spread across most European cultures by the Romans, via their well-developed roads. In the Northern Europe, pastry was cooked using lard and butter. This recipe enabled the cooks to make stiff dough which held an upright pie. These pastry dishes were known as “coffins or coffyns”, meaning basket or box.
In the 14th century, the pastry had become a common dish and was known as a “pie” or “pye”.The origin of and meaning of this word is still unknown. However, it is thought to be related to the magpie, maybe because both are spotted. The French and the Italians adopted the crust and made it much flakier and tastier. They achieved this by using the method of adding butter which was later rolled and folded into the dough.
Therefore, the modern day crust is thought to have originated from the Paris pastry guild. The meat pie was spread across the globe by the English pilgrims who sailed with them to their colonies or on exploration missions. The crust which was hard and thick helped preserve the pie during the long American winter period.
It was not until the 1800s that the pie became popular in America. Today it has been replaced by the more popular sweet pies. Regional meat pie variations such as Latin American pies or pasties, the empanadas, are mainly baked or fried using different pastry crusts and fillings. Large amount of onions, green/red pepper ware commonly used with fish or meat. The dough varies from cornmeal to puff pastry.
For example, in Chile, Argentina, Peru and other Latin American countries, ground beef mixed with olives, cheese, diced steak and salami are used. The Irish meat pie mainly consists of round steak, bacon, Guinness stout beer, and onions. In Australia, it is mainly served in Irish pubs with potato chips and vegetables. In Australia and New Zealand, it is commonly found in petrol stations and fast-food restaurants as convenience food. The Jamaican beef patty is more similar to the Nigerian meat pie. It is mainly filled with corned beef or only onions and tomatoes, and is baked or fried. In the Middle East, meat pies are widely called sfiha. It is made of tomatoes, pine nuts, onions, tahini, olive oil, ground beef and plain yogurt. Kreatopita, the Greek meat pie contains feta cheese, onions, and ground beef, while the crust is made of phyllo dough. The samosa, Indian meat pie, may have peas, ground beef, spiced potatoes, coriander or chicken and is mostly served with chutney.