Who can say no to these crunchy Greek cheese pies from the island of Skopelos? To a Greek fennel pie from Crete (marathopita) or to a sweet pumpkin pie from Macedonia? To a savory aromatic pie with homemade phyllo dough and feta cheese pieces or to a traditional Greek fish pie (with cod, smelt, or any other kind of fish) full of flavor and aroma? Well, it’s a fact…Greek pies are undoubtedly some of the most delicious and -of course- most well-known pies around the world! Think about it… Is there a more popular kind of pie in the world than the Greek one? Think again…Are the Mexican tortillas and the Chinese dumplings just as popular? Is that the case for the French choux with the rich crème patisserie, or for the Arabic pita breads filled with all sorts of ingredients, or even for the Italian calzone which is not a pizza but a…pie (since the word “pizza” comes from the Ancient Greek word «picta» and the following Byzantine «pie»)? Yes, that’s right! Pizza is Greek, even though Italians “got credit” for it after!
All these together drive us to one more conclusion: There are countless kinds of pie all over the world. We chose only some of them and we invite you to discover them and their unique -full of flavor- surprises. Are you ready? Let’s take a look at them one by one!
Sweet pumpkin pie | Greece
There isn’t a place in the world with a greater tradition in pies! Apart from the historical data (which are actually proving that), this is also clear from the so many different kinds of pie that one can find in Greece. Every place has its own characteristic pie with its own filling and its own traditional, homemade phyllo. One of them is the sweet pumpkin pie, which has countless variations: They make it in Macedonia, in Peloponnese (a little more…syrupy), open face or not – in several ways. But, none of them is like this Sweet Pumpkin pie that you’ll find here…
Pithivier | France
Pithivier comes from France. It is made of two puff pastry sheets that enclose a sweet or savory filling in the center. This filling can either have mushrooms or cheese with aromatic fruits. But, if you are wondering which was the first ever filling of the pithivier, we have the answer: Traditionally, French people filled it with frangipane or almond cream, while others dusted it with icing sugar before serving it. As for its shape? It was round at first, but it wasn’t long before it got many variations.
Cornish Pies | Great Britain
Can such a small pie be hiding a whole…meal within it? Of course, it can! This was the goal of the Cornish miners who, in the 17th – 18th century, filled this particular pie with all sorts of ingredients (meat, vegetables, potatoes…), as it was the ideal snack for work given its small, convenient shape. It is a traditional dish which, in the past 6 years, has been recognized by the European Union as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) product.
Salteñas | Bolivia
Do you know the empanadas of Argentina? Well, salteñas are the empanadas of Bolivia! They are small turnovers filled with chicken, beef, or pork in a sweet, more or less hot sauce, accompanied by eggs, peas, olives, potatoes, raisins, and many other ingredients. The secret of their preparation hides in adding gelatin, which gives them an even juicier consistency – regarding not only the filling but also the dough.
Dumplings | China
What are dumplings? They are small balls of dough which are made of flour, water, and cooking fat. It is said that they were “invented” by Zhang Zhongjing, about 1.800 years ago, when he wanted to warm up his compatriots since he saw that their ears had started to freeze from the cold…In that way, he created small pies in the shape of an ear, and he filled them with lamb meat, chili, and some medicinal herbs. After boiling them, he gave them to the poor. The particular ingredients helped in warming up the body of the people, contributing to better blood flow. Also known as Jiaozi, they symbolize the warmth of home and they are part of the traditional Chinese cuisine.
Apple pie | America
For many, it is considered a classic American dessert. The apple pie seems like it got to the Americas (in the 17th – 18th century) through Great Britain! In fact, when it was first made, you could only eat its (unsweetened) filling and not the dough. As time passed, apple pie started to gradually sweeten, until it got to the Americans who boosted its flavor (in and out), its reputation, and…its calories! In fact, in the old days, it was given to children as dinner, while the housewives prepared it even when there were no apples, by replacing fresh apples with dried ones.
Bartolillos | Spain
Bartolillos come from Spain and specifically from Madrid. If you ever visit Spain’s capital during Easter, you will definitely have the chance to try the traditional Bartolillos that are like fried empanadas in a sweeter version. Filled with a rich cream and dusted with icing sugar, they are one of the (tastiest) reasons for which it is worth going on a trip to Spain…
Pirozhki | Russia
Pirozhki, as its name signifies, is a “small pie”. It is a delicious, fluffy dough which encloses a filling. A filling that can be either sweet (cream, chocolate, etc.) or savory (with ground meat, potatoes, veggies, etc.). Of course, learning the recipe of a traditional pirozhki is not an easy case – not even for the Russians! It is passed down from generation to generation… Luckily, you do not have to wait for anyone ;-) Why? Because I have the recipe right here!
Feteer | Egypt
We could say that the feteer is a combination of pizza and pancake. It is a lot yummier than pizza and even more delicious than pancakes; it is a fluffy dough pastry that Egyptians “load” with several ingredients -sweet and savory-, with eggs and apricots being some the most popular alternatives. As for the Pharaohs? They wanted to enjoy their feteers with honey, nuts, and fruits.
Torta della Nonna | Italy
Torta della nonna is an all-time favorite traditional Italian dessert. It is merely translated as “grandma’s cake” and it is practically a crispy tart with a thick, delicious, lemony -and maybe even sweeter- cream, decorated with pine nuts and dusted with icing sugar. It comes from Florence and when the cream and pine nuts are replaced with chocolate and almonds, then it changes its name and from “torta della nonna” becomes “torta del nonno” (grandpa’s cake)!
And now that you saw them, tell me…Which one will you make first? I have tried them all and I can tell you that you will love whichever you choose! I am waiting for comments and photos of your sweet and savory creations!