Pies of the World

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Fruit or meat. Cheesy or chocolate. Shortcrust or filo. By the slice or by the handful. Whatever your favourite combination, nothing beats the perfect piece of pie.

The humble pie first entered the culinary history books way back in 9500BC in Neolithic Egypt as a sweet, honey filled treat, wrapped in ground oats, wheat, rye, or barley.

The Egyptian’s neighbours in Greece developed the pie even further to include pastry and a meat filling. The recipe then made its way into the hands (and bellies) of the Romans who carried it over to Spain and Northern Europe and from there, a food legend was born.

Pecan Pie, New Orleans, USA

A popular holiday dish, and a cornerstone of Southern US cuisine, the Pecan pie a deliciously sticky sweet treat best served with a large scoop of ice cream.

It is believed this nutty dessert was invented by French settlers shortly after they arrived in New Orleans and were introduced to the nut by Native Americans.

Pecan Pie. Photo by Jackie Waters
Pecan Pie. Photo by Jackie Waters
Pecan Pie. Photo by @joefoodie
Pecan Pie. Photo by @joefoodie

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The Classic Meat Pie, Australia & New Zealand

Best eaten out of a paper bag with lashings of tomato sauce, the iconic meat pie is a staple in the Southern Hemisphere.

Found in bakeries across the country, the classic fillings of steak and cheese, mince and gravy, chicken and potato top are found alongside more gourmet offerings such as chicken, brie and mushroom and Moroccan lamb.

The Classic Meat Pie. Photo by Graham van der Wielen
The Classic Meat Pie. Photo by Graham van der Wielen

Key Lime Pie, Florida, USA

Named after the small Key limes that are found throughout the Florida Keys, this tart and aromatic dessert is a true delight and dates back to the 19th century.

Made from Key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk, the traditional Conch version also has a golden meringue topping.

In 2006, legislation was passed to make Key lime pie the “Official Pie of the State of Florida”.

Key Lime Pie. Photo by Kimberly Vardeman
Key Lime Pie. Photo by Kimberly Vardeman
Key Lime Pie. Photo by Bing
Key Lime Pie. Photo by Bing

Spanakopita, Greece

The fantastically named Spanakopita (spinach pie) is made from layers of flaky filo pastry filled with chopped spinach, feta cheese (sometimes with ricotta), onions, egg, and seasoning.

Once cooked, the golden pie is cut into slices and served as a snack.

Spanakopita. Photo by Sodexo USA
Spanakopita. Photo by Sodexo USA

Steak and kidney pie, UK

You haven’t had a truly British food experience until you’ve tasted a hearty steak and kidney pie.

Made from a mixture of diced beef, diced kidney, fried onion, and brown gravy, this pie is a favourite menu item in pubs throughout the UK.

The gravy is a mix of salted beef broth, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper, and it may also contain a generous helping of ale or Guinness.

Steak and Kidney Pie. Photo by Paul Downey
Steak and Kidney Pie. Photo by Paul Downey

Natchitoches Meat Pie, Louisiana, USA

A regional dish from northern Louisiana, meat pies from the city of Natchitoches have become an official state food.

Popular since the 1700s, the crescent-shaped, flaky wheat pie is filled with ground beef, ground pork, onions, peppers, garlic, oil and then fried in peanut oil.

Restaurants in the historic district in Natchitoches serve the pies and you’ll also find them at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

An annual Meat Pie Festival is held in September and includes pie making demonstrations, a meat pie cook-off and live music.

Natchitoches Meat Pie. Photo by Kimberly Vardeman
Natchitoches Meat Pie. Photo by Kimberly Vardeman

Tourtière, Canada

Originating in Lower Canada, the Tourtière meat pie is a key feature on Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Thanksgiving tables in Quebec and with French-Canadian families throughout the country.

Usually made with finely diced pork, veal, beef, or a mixture, the meat chosen can vary based on what is available in the region.

Tourtière. Photo by Christine Rondeau
Tourtière. Photo by Christine Rondeau
Tourtière. Photo by Christine Rondeau
Tourtière. Photo by Christine Rondeau

Buko Pie, Philippines

A variation on the coconut cream pie, this Filipino sweet is made from young coconut (buko) meat, custard and sweetened condensed milk.

While Buko pie is traditionally plain, today it is often flavoured with pandan, vanilla, or almond essences.

Buko Pie. Photo by Krista
Buko Pie. Photo by Krista

Lemon Meringue Pie, Switzerland

The world famous Lemon Meringue Pie was first whipped up by a 19th century Swiss baker named Alexander Frehse.

Usually served for dessert, the crust is made of shortcrust or shortbread pastry which is then filled with lemon curd and topped with fluffy meringue.

Lemon Meringue Pie. Photo by Kirsten
Lemon Meringue Pie. Photo by Kirsten
Lemon Meringue Pie. Photo by Jon Mountjoy
Lemon Meringue Pie. Photo by Jon Mountjoy

Bisteeya, Morocco

Don’t let its traditional main ingredient put you off. This elaborate Moroccan meat pie is originally filled with squab – fledgling pigeons.

Thankfully, squabs are hard to come by so shredded chicken is used instead.

Generally served at the beginning of special meals, Bisteeya combines the sweet and salty flavours of meat slow-cooked in broth and spices and a crunchy layer of toasted and ground almonds, cinnamon, and sugar.

Bisteeya before. Photo by Krista
Bisteeya before. Photo by Krista
Bisteeya after. Photo by Krista
Bisteeya after. Photo by Krista

Coulibiac, Russia

Russian coulibiac consists of a pastry shell made of brioche or puff pastry and filled with salmon or sturgeon, rice, hard-boiled eggs, mushrooms and dill.

A classic coulibiac features layers of different fillings – a mixture of white fish and rice on the top and bottom layers with fillets of sturgeon or salmon in between.

Coulibiac is also made with simpler, vegetarian fillings like cabbage and potatoes.

Coulibiac. Photo by Theresa Power
Coulibiac. Photo by Theresa Power

Borek, Various

Borek is a selection of baked or fried filled pastries made of a thin, flaky pastry known as phyllo (filo) or yufka.

Filled with cheese, minced meat, or vegetables, it was most likely invented in what is now modern Turkey.

Borek is very popular in countries that were once part of the Ottoman Empire, especially North Africa and throughout the Balkans.

Borek. Photo by Kurman Communications, Inc.
Borek. Photo by Kurman Communications, Inc.

Salteñas, Bolivia

Salteñas are savoury pastries filled with beef, pork or chicken mixed in a sweet, spicy sauce found in towns and cities throughout Bolivia.

Cochabamba and Sucre are said to produce the best version of this snack, and many Salteñas  fans will go out of their way to try the variation from Potosí.

The pastries are usually sold from 7am to noon, but many outlets sell out by mid-morning.

Salteñas. Photo by Bing
Salteñas. Photo by Bing

Cornish Pasty, Cornwall, UK

You’ll come across many an impersonator at train stations and bus stops across the British Isles, but nothing beats the real thing from Cornwall.

The traditional Cornish pasty, which has Protected Geographical Indication status in the EU, is filled with beef, potato, swede and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then baked in its famous semicircle shape.

Cornish Pasty. Photo by Betsy Weber
Cornish Pasty. Photo by Betsy Weber

Apple Pie, Various

Despite being as American as apple pie, this dessert is actually a global favourite.

English apple pie recipes date back to the time of Chaucer, Dutch apple pie (appeltaart or appelgebak) calls for flavourings such as cinnamon and lemon juice to be added, and the Swedish style is more similar to an apple crumble.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, apple pie became a symbol of American prosperity and national pride. The community of Pie Town, New Mexico even named themselves in honour of this national favourite.

Apple Pie. Photo by scott feldstein
Apple Pie. Photo by scott feldstein
Apple Pie. Photo by Dinner Series
Apple Pie. Photo by Dinner Series

Main image by jamieanne.

Pies of the World was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Kara Segedin
Author: Kara Segedin (88 posts)

Writer, traveller, Tweeter, blogger and part-time adventurer. A kiwi living in London off to explore the world! I can never travel enough!