Wednesday 22 March 2017

Open Letter to Mary Berry about top crust pies

A Mary Berry Steak "Pie" we made
It's not that we're angry Mary Berry... we're just...well... disappointed! I mean, we'd expect it from a lot of pubs, who are trying to earn a fast buck. We'd even expect it from some of the more quirky chefs out there who are "trying something new". But not our Mary! Not this!

And yet on her cookery show Mary Berry Everyday the legend that is Mary Berry was accused of making a casserole with a pastry lid and calling it a pie! And people - we of course included - were not happy!!!

I know it's not got the same gravitas as the pie v pastry debate of the British Pie Awards 2016. It's not even as bad as Sainsbury's claiming a tart is a pie! But of all the baking heroes we'd hope were championing a fully encased pie, it would be our Mary! Which is why we feel the need to write an...

Open letter to Mary Berry

I have to admit it takes a lot to shock us aboard the Pierate Ship these days. Pies - our passion and dedication for over seven and a half years now - have a tough press. People often mis-label many things as pies - the shepherds pie (which should be a shepherds potato bake), pumpkin pie (which is really a tart), even whole pizzas are called pies in America!

But perhaps the thing that bugs us most - because it is so close to a proper pie and yet is not - is a casserole with a pastry lid being called a pie! And unfortunately Mary, we can't sit back and watch you bake casseroles with a pastry lid and call them pies on prime time BBC TV!

To help you out here, our Pierate Pie Dictionary clearly states what a true pie actually is:- filling fully encased in pastry with clearly defined base, sides and lid. A casserole with a pastry lid does not meet these stringent criteria and it's not even the first time you've called a casserole with a pastry lid a pie, as the Steak and Mushroom pie made by our Ship's Cook for our Great British Bake Off Steak Pie Off was also sadly a top-crust pie!!! Even the British Pie Awards - who have a far more liberal definition of a pie than us and even let a blooming pasty win their top award in 2016(?!) - would not consider a casserole with a pastry lid to be a proper pie!

With so many people looking to you for ins-pie-ration and important pie making knowledge, the future of British pie making is in someways in your hands Mary. So please... please don't keep on making casseroles with pastry lids and calling them pies! The real art of a pie is making it fully encased in pastry - something you can pick up in your hands and eat wherever you are (not stuck in a ceramic dish due to lack of base pastry!) Let's avoid the controversy and make British pies great again! Do the right thing Mary, and next time, line your pie dish with pastry before you add your filling!

Yours in pie,

Pierateer RAS

You'll be pleased to know that we at Pierate Pie Reviews will always mark a top-crust only pie down in our pie rating, so that only true, fully encased in pastry pies can get anywhere near close to our pie-fect score of 7 out of 7! You can find out more about this by viewing our "7 Cs of pie rating".

You'll also find that there are many others who agree with us that pies should be fully encased in pastry, not just casseroles topped with pastry. One person above all others stands with us in this view and that is Bill T Wulf. Not happy at being served casserole after casserole topped with pastry hats, Bill T Wulf took matters into his own hands in 2015 by creating an e-pie-tition to “make wrongly describing a casserole with a pastry lid a criminal offence”.

While sadly it fell short of the 100,000 signatures it needed to be debated in parliament - in part due to the government changing part way through the e-pie-tition phase which meant there wasn't the usual whole year to gain signatures in - it raised awareness of the need to highlight this dishonesty that has affected hundreds of menus up and down this land.

Too many pubs and restaurants don't distinguish properly if their pie is a proper pie (fully encased) or just a casserole with a pastry lid - or even worse, really just a potato bake! We continue to seek change in this regard, in continuing the legacy set by this e-pie-tition. For full comment by Bill T Wulf on the latest Telegraph article please click here.

As Matthew O’Callaghan - chairman of both the British Pie Awards and the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association - pointed out in his interview with The Telegraph:

“The awards are about celebrating the craft of pie making. It’s a lot easier to put a bit of pastry on top of a dish and call it a pie. A real pie encased in pastry means getting the ingredients right, making the pastry, and ensuring an even bake throughout.”

We're pleased to hear that the British Pie Awards were set up for similar reasons to the petition – "to celebrate and distinguish artisan British efforts like the pork pie from "pastry-topped casseroles" and to "rescue" the word pie from what purists consider to be decades, nay centuries, of misuse." (Although it is then rather ironic that the British Pie Awards still let pasties enter!!!)

While we realise some people will disagree with us and not see anything wrong with calling casserole topped with pastry a pie, we will hold a firm line as pie purists. We'll continue our search for the best pies out there, knowing that only filling fully encased in pastry with a clearly defined base, side and lid can ever be crowned Pierate pie-fection!


We have actually eaten a lot of genuine pies which can be seen in our Pierate Pie Rankings or you can click here for all PIE reviews categorised by shop or flavour.

Where do you stand on the proper pie v casserole with pastry lid debate?

Make sure you 
and let us know your thoughts!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for getting in touch with the Pierateers!