Pies in Infinite Variety

Inspiration: For the early modern cook, practically any food could be made into a pie. Sweet, dessert pies were common, especially considering how well preserved fruit could be transformed into an edible reminder of summer. But savory meat and fish pies were common as well, offering a way to make the most of sometimes scarce animal resources.

Recipe books often made no distinction between these different kinds of pie, mixing recipes for fruit and meat pies on their pages with no sense that they played different roles in the meal. Pastry, in other words, served as the common denominator between what, to current palates, seem to be distinct kinds of pies.

Folger manuscript V.a.697 vividly illustrates this tendency to treat all pies and pastries alike, mixing together dishes from Goose Pies to Apple Tarts to Cheese Cakes. Imagine how many could be incorporated into what we’d see as a single meal!: