The earliest English recipes for pies are in The Forme of Cury – a rolled vellum parchment written for the cooks of King Richard II in the 1390′; our oldest English cookbook. The pye casing in those days was called a ‘coffyn’ and was made from flour & water – no fat. The meat and vegetables were placed in the coffyn which when sealed was placed in the oven to bake. When ready the filling was scooped out onto plates and the inedible pastry thrown away – bit like today with the pastry of some pie producers! As Chairman of the recent British Pie Awards (900 pies and pasties being judged in St Mary’s Church, Melton Mowbray) I thought we perhaps had one or two that might have been described as medieval pies! www.britishpieawards.co.uk
In posh society the Lord of the Manor sitting at the high table would eat meat such as venison from the deer hunted and killed on his land. The lower ranks would sit at the far end of the hall and would be served the entrails of the deer – called ‘umbles’ or ‘numbles’ – in a pie. Hence the expression ‘to eat umble pie’.
These days so many politicians have entered politics straight from school and university, served their time as an MP’s assistant or special adviser or similar and so not really had the chance to work outside politics. Look at how many of the Cabinet have gone to the best schools and universities and so not engaged in the ordinary world of work. Like the Lords of the Manor sitting on the high table they don’t do the shopping so they don’t notice the price of bread or milk or meat rise. Their ministry cars are filled up for them before they arrive to take them to their next engagement so they don’t know how the price of fuel is hitting the rest of us, more used to sitting at the lower end of the great hall.
Maybe they, and perhaps we all, who want to represent the British people could do with a dose of eating ‘umble pie’.
And as for the pasty tax….!