This is a piece I first posted in December 2014 and I thought that I’d rerun it. In Australia we don’t have a National Pie Day like they do in the USA. (It was on 23 January in case you missed it) We probably should because Australians love their meat pies. So here is my edited post on The Great Australian Pie.
I saw an item on the news about how Australian entrepreneurs are trying to introduce Americans to the good old Aussie pie. It was a fun story and reminded me of the time back in the eighties when I used to have penfriends in the USA. That was how I learned that Americans don’t eat meat pies the way we do. I still find that hard to grasp Pies have been part of my life ever since we first came to Australia and I guess I just thought that everyone ate pies. I thought pies would be something that would be familiar to Americans who are always talking about pie, for dessert at least.
One of the would be pie sellers even had what I thought was an Adelaide specialty, the pie floater. A pie floater is a meat pie turned upside down and served in a bowl of pea soup and topped with tomato sauce. It looks pretty fearsome, bright green soup and bright red sauce. I didn’t try one until David bought me one at the Pie Cart outside the Adelaide Railway Station when we were first going out together. If you can get over how it looks it’s really good to eat. When my American penfriend Christie came to visit we took her to the Pie Cart too and she bravely tried one and admitted that she quite liked it. The Pie Cart at the Adelaide station was great. It wasn’t the only one in the city, there was another at the Town Hall but it was the one that I went to most often. In those days it was one of the few places open late at night. It was not uncommon to see well dressed people who had come from the Festival Centre or the Casino eating a Pie Floater at the counter next to a worker on a late shift. You might even see an MP from the nearby Parliament House after a late sitting. We often stopped there for a hot drink before catching the last train home in the days before we had a car. When I worked late at the station it was a handy place to get a drink or a snack in my late break.
On our last visit to Adelaide I was upset to see that the Pie Cart had gone. The Casino is located in the upper part of the railway station and apparently I believe that management had wanted it gone for some years but what did it in the end ws the extension of the city tram line down North Terrace past the station. Still I feel sure that the pie cart could have been relocated nearby. I believe you can still get a Pie Floater at one of the other Pie Carts but for me it’s not the same.
The Sydney version of the Floater is a pie with mushy peas but I’ve never had that. I imagine it is similar. The place to get those is Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. The original Harry’s was and still is in Wooloomooloo but now it is a franchise and operates from several locations around Sydney. I have yet to visit a Harry’s. Maybe on my next trip.
In the 1970s this advertisement for Holden cars featured a catchy jingle with the lyrics “We love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.” most people soon learned the words by heart.
Everyone has their favourite brand of pie and they can vary from state to state. In my childhood we had Balfour’s and Gibbs. Later we discovered Four’n’Twenty pies and later, in Adelaide, Vili’s pies started up. Vili’s make very nice pies. The owner has a Hungarian background and their goulash pies are the best. Here in Tasmania we have National Pies and they are good pies too.
Cheap pies don’t have much meat in them, it’s nearly all gravy and will drip all over you as soon as you bite into it. I prefer a chunkier pie myself with lots of meat and not much gravy. Well actually what I really like is a Cornish Pasty but we’re talking about pies right now. Real Aussies like sauce in or on their pies. I’m not a real Aussie and I’m not a big fan of tomato sauce so I don’t.
If you can’t get pies in your part of the world here is a link to a recipe on Taste.com.au