16 December 2008

The history of the Mince Pie

I love learning about cooking, stems back from hearing my Nan (who used to be a cook in service many years ago) talk about the old style of cooking, and working in the kitchens at Windsor Castle simply added to my love of history so combing the two loves is a match made in heaven. TV programmes such as Tales from the Green Valley, or people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recreating old style foods whet my appetite for more.

So on to the topic of today, the humble mince pie. Not the sweet pastry ones of today, when they were first derived in the medieval era they were known as chewet - which was a fried or baked pastry containing chopped liver and other meats mixed with boiled eggs and ginger. The latter possibly to cover the taste of the meat which might have not stored very well and was possibly getting a bit rancid. For variety, dried fruit and other sweet ingredients might be added to the chewet's filling if the household could afford the luxury of these goods.

The mince pie (or Shred Pie) became a christmas speciality by the 16th century, and in the 17th century, the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and his Parliament Men passed a law that made it illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day. Nb this has not yet been repealed so if you do you are breaking the law :-).

By the mid-17th Century, meat was replaced by Beef Suet and by the 19th Century meat was no longer used in the making of mince pies. I use the vegetarian version of Suet as it helps to keep the pies lighter in texture and taste.

But there is a little bit of me, that would like to try out the 'older' style of Chewet... what do you think SOH might say?

Don't forget to put your guesses on the Giveaway post to try and win the Calendar - you have until Friday 19th December at 12.00 Noon.


gemmak said...

Wow....how interesting, in service in Windsor Castle! :o) My maternal grandmother was in service in a big house in Hertford (ish)....but nothing as grand as Windsor....she must have had some good tales to tell :o)

gemmak said...

Did I mention I love mince pies? ;o)

Nicey said...

I am learning loads bet ya you win all the local pub quiz nights !

Anonymous said...

How interesting...

though I must say, I don't think I like the sound of those mince pies from the 17th, LOL.


Hogday said...

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Anonymous said...

My mother always makes Mince pie for Thanksgiving, but I think it's the sweeter, impostor version you speak of earlier in your post.

Do you know where a recipe for the original pie can be obtained? Have you ever made the original version yourself yet?

I love that you enjoy cooking. I'm a foodie myself. Very interested in really good food and cooking. I think we'll get along just fine :)