Pie, you say? Make mine mince
Ecclesiastics tells us “to everything there is a season.”
For me, this is the season for mince pie.
Of all holiday confections, mince pie has got to be at the top of my list of favorites. The combination of apples, raisins and exotic spices is not only delicious but pleasingly evocative of holidays past.
Pumpkin pie doesn’t do this for me. It has to be mince pie — also known as mince meat pie, though it’s unusual to find meat in a mince meat pie these days.
Venison was a popular choice for mince meat pies in earlier times in this country.
The pies are rooted in old England where they were originally a savory dish, not the dessert we know today.
They were also originally square or oblong, not round, but always contained the highly spiced minced meat encased in a pastry crust, which was also known as a “coffin.”
The pies emerged as another way to preserve meat in the time before refrigeration. The heavy spicing of the meat extended its shelf life.
Tradition has it that the pies were developed in the 11th century when the Crusaders returned with exotic spices from the Holy Land, which makes sense.
They make little cameo appearances here and there in English history.
King Henry V is reputed to have served mince meat pie at his coronation in 1413.
By Dickens’ time they were known as “Christmas pies,” as essential to the holiday table as plum pudding.
They’re not as popular as they once were in this country, replaced by more contemporary desserts. I asked my son what kind of pie he’d like for Thanksgiving and he said “chocolate cream.”
Does chocolate cream pie say Thanksgiving to you?
Here’s a straightforward recipe for “Mince Meat Pie” from the Web site www.cooks.com. Note that, despite its name, there is no meat involved. Click here for the recipe.
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