I was reminded of the British pie obsession just recently when the CBC As is Happens radio show ran a piece about the World Pie Eating Championship in Wigan, England. There was all sorts of chaos as the contestants were forced to tackle non-regulation size pies. The shame of it!
When people talk about pies here in Northern Ontario, they are usually referring to freshly baked sweet pies– apple, blueberry, lemon, coconut… mmm! I remember stopping off for lunch at a Mennonite bakery last year in the Waterloo area. The shelves were overflowing with freshly baked fruit pies, and not surprisingly the line-ups were huge.
Sweet pies are big business here, but savoury pies or pasties not so much. My local Superstore (one of the big grocery chains in Canada) has various pies in the freezer section, but it’s not quite the same as picking up a fresh pie or pasty from a bakery. They stocked proper pork pies for a while and every time they appeared I bought them up in huge quantities for my husband. He really misses his pies!
During holiday season, however, it’s a different story. For Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Year’s Eve, enter the tourtière! Tourtière is a meat pie with a shortcrust pastry case, French-Canadian in origin. Typical fillings would be beef or pork, often combined with potato, cinnamon and cloves, but the recipe has lots of regional variations.
My husband’s usual pie-making activities have been curtailed this season (more to come on that), so when I heard that tourtières were available to order from the student centre at the college where I work, I gratefully ordered one, sliced it up and stored it in the freezer ready for Christmas and New Year celebrations. I also prepared my veggie version: veggie ground round (mince), chickpeas and kidney beans mixed with gravy and veggies.
Happy New Year!