Growing up in the US, neither of us were really exposed to proper meat pies. Sure, we have the classic chicken pot pie, and maybe a Shepherd’s pie here and there, but that only scratches the surface of the pie-o-sphere.
Our Intro to the Meat Pie
Our introduction to real meat pies came oddly enough in Zambia. We had just arrived in Livingstone to join up with an overland trip heading through Zambia, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The other members of the trip were mostly from British Commonwealth nations, several of whom had already been in Livingstone a couple days. They all raved about the pies and sausage rolls from a small place on the main road in downtown Livingstone, so naturally being the curious eaters that we are we tagged along to check things out. After the experience it immediately raised a question. WHY DON’T WE HAVE MEAT PIES AT HOME???? Why aren’t they everywhere? Why hasn’t someone made millions bringing these savory parcels to the masses?
For the uninitiated, meat pies are hand-held pastries filled with different cooked meats, sauces and vegetables. Some classic versions are steak and kidney or steak and onion. More modern favorites are delights like curried lamb and Guinness steak.
History of the Meat Pie
Apparently, the humble meat pie has been around since the Neolithic Period. First the Egyptians, and then later the Greeks and Romans all had their versions of the meat pie, with savory meats packed into some kind of a grain-based pastry and cooked over coals. While in earlier times the dough may have been more of a wrapper, to be discarded or given to the servants, the French and Italians refined the pastry portion, and something resembling the modern pie crust began to evolve. Meat Pies are popular today in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and South Africa, with regional versions like the South American empanada and the Jamaican beef patty, which must be further explored for their own merits.
The Outjo Bäckerei in Outjo, Namibia had delicious game meat pies and sausage rolls. We were on our way to addiction. After having spent time in Africa, we head to Australia. This leap just further fueled our growing pie obsession. Pies became a quick, easy snack while exploring. A very memorable shop was Pot Belly Pies in the German village of Hahndorf, about 30 minutes into the mountains from Adelaide.
Our next stop after Australia was New Zealand. Of course we enjoyed our fair share of pies while driving our camper van from place to place. If you find yourself in Te Anau on the South Island make sure you stop in at Miles Better Pies. We enjoyed their pies so much that we made it a stop on our way out of town to buy more for our road trip.
We are currently home in Atlanta, working and traveling on a marketing tour, with a lucky stop at our home-base. We had heard a ton about an authentic Australian pie shop over in Marietta on historic Marietta Square. On a recent day off we decided to go check it out. When were arrived, there happened to be an Art Fair going on. Most of the parking lots were charging to park. That didn’t stop us! We circled around for a bit then scored a street spot as someone else was leaving. The Australian Bakery Cafe is right on South Park Square.
We ordered a few pies, including the obligatory “Ned Kelly.” It’s a steak pie with bacon, egg and cheese for a lid! Also, the curry lamb pie was a stand out. A Bundaberg ginger beer to wash it down while sitting outside at a curbside table and we were happy campers, I think the nostalgic Crunchie bar helped a bit too. So now whenever we have a hankering for a tasty meat pie we have a short drive to get our fix.
Let Us Know What We’ve Missed
Leave a comment below to let us know what we may have been missing in the world of the meat pie!