Why apple pie isn’t American

What’s more American than cultural appropriation?


A bit. But IRRC the concept of sweet, desert pies in general is relatively recent. And was developed and embraced in the US to a far greater extent than most of the old world. Those 14th century apple pies were not necessarily sweet fillings packed into flaky pastry. They were heavily spiced mixes of fruit baked into dense, inedible shells for preservation purposes. Savory meat pies were more the norm. And as sweet versions and soft pastry became more common applications like tarts and pastries were (and still are) more the norm in Europe compared to typical American style pies.

So while American Apple pie is quite similar to its immediate (modern) predecessors in England and The Netherlands. Americans do have something unique going on with pie. Its pervasiveness and variety here. Which exceeds that of other countries. To the point where those other countries often associate pie with the US as much or more so than Americans. My European friends and family often point out that they “don’t have” pie “like this” at home before stopping and realizing oh wait there are these specific deserts that are pie. Unlike Americans who invariably put everything into a sweet desert pie, argue over who has or makes the best pie. In a nation where restaurants will advertise based on having 25+ varieties of pie on offer.


The phrase doesn’t mean that it’s American by invention, it means “as commonplace, in America, as apple pie.”


Damn it, now I want BBQ goat. and apple pie for dessert! :yum:


They’re way beyond this video.
Their slogan is “as American as buckets of dehydrated prepper supplies.”


Well, my go-to medieval cookbook, Pleyn Delit, has a recipe for “Tartys in Applis”.

(Measurements and instructions modernised by the authors – but they note in the book’s introduction they tried to keep to the original medieval flavours as much as possible.)

About 2lbs of apples
Optional: substitute in 1-2 very firm pears for some of the apples
About 1/2c dried figs or prunes, stoned and chopped
1/3c raisins
1/2c sugar (brown, white, or a combination)
1/4 tsp each cinnamon, nutmeg, mace, salt
1/8 tsp ground cloves
Pinch saffron or tumeric
Pastry for one pie shell

The instructions say to use smaller pieces of fruit than we do today, but otherwise you’re just baking a pie. Those are more types of spices than we’re used to using in one pie today, but the amounts aren’t exactly off the charts.

While I know the average American recipe calls for more sugar, to be honest, with all the dried fruit included, when I finally get 'round to trying this recipe out (only made savouries from the book so far), I’ll probably either halve the amount or leave it out entirely. It’s true American baking (and yogurt,and a whole lot of other things) are more sugary than the rest of the world prefers, but I’m not sure that means the rest of us aren’t eating dessert.

As for the crust… they did start out as simply disposable containers to keep the filling clean in the oven, but they were eaten if clean and tasty enough. Certainly even nowadays it’s not unusual for someone to leave the crust on their plate.

ETA: the book includes other sweet fruit pie recipes, but they all also include custard. Not sure if this is representative or if they just ran out of space. There were far more pudding and custard recipes. The introduction to the sweets section states, “Most – if not all – medieval feasts ended with a sweets course.”


What’s more American European than cultural appropriation?


America is so good at cultural appropriation that we even appropriated that.


Quite the opposite.

Desert pie? Sounds kinda, I dunno, sandy.


2 keys. First “Tartys in Applis”. I’m assuming that “Tartys” would indicate a connection to tarts rather than pies. Also “Pastry for one pie shell” The pastry for one pie shell there doesn’t neccisarily indicate the sort of pastry we’d use today. Early pastry for pies and “Coffins” was intended to be inedible. It sealed the contents for preservation. And was broken into so the contents could be eaten, then discarded. Or fed to dogs or the poor. Likewise less sugar more spices than a typical modern pie. American or not. Because again its less of a sweet that a fruit preservation method (or its roots were). Sugar preserves fruit, in much the same way that salt can preserve meat. And so forth.

Assuming these are late medieval recipes it could very well be a pie intended to be sweet, with edible pastry. Since the early roots of that are late medieval/renaissance from what I recall. You could be looking at a transitional pie there. But the book looks to be a modern book, collecting and adapting recipes from multiple sources. Recipes from later might be getting rounded down to medieval, which seems common with these sorts of things. And adaptation of the recipes to modern methods and standards could also be skewing things to have more resemblance to modern dishes, which also seems common. I have a late 17th century Irish cookbook on my desk. Its published as a letter for letter transcription of the original, with no adaptation. There are no sweet pies in the book. Plenty of cakes, jams marmalades, possets, fools, and preserved fruits. A few tarts. And multiple pastry crust recipes. Most labeled as for meat pies and tarts. One making reference to use in “sweet pyes”. Point being they exist and have deep roots with a long evolution. But they weren’t the default mode of pie and often looked and tasted quite different. Especially when you consider that a medieval apple was unlikely to be as sweet to start with as ours are today.

But that’s kind of moot. As I pointed out there are Dutch and English apple pies that are identical to American Apple pie. And (at least briefly) predate “America” as a concept, and the USA as a nation.

To be fair, the number of things that apple pie isn’t vastly exceeds the number of things that it is.

You realise your first paragraph just repeats what I noted in my post, right?

And the book is a collection of recipes from the Middle Ages, mostly English, some German, French, and Spanish.



Literally saying the thing @gadgetgirl02 just said… back to her… seriously, maybe had a piece of pie and chill?



Sometimes there are SO MANY THINGS you just have to SPLAIN RIGHT NOW that you can’t finish reading the previous post. WORDS! THE WORDS IN MY BRAIN! I MUST GET THEM OUT!






Reminds me of a saying I like to use on conservatives of a certain age:

Eddie Van Halen is as American as Dutch Apple Pie.

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