375 Years of Food at Harvard: Pie

Some historians trace the roots of the pie back to 9500 B.C., when ancient Egyptians began to use stone tools for grinding and making food. Originally, they were referred to as “galettes,” but they were far from our common notion of a pie. It was not until the Greeks invented the pie pastry that ancient pies seem to resemble modern conceptions. Even so, pies historically featured mostly meat-based fillings, rather than the sweet pies we often consume for dessert. In the Medieval Ages, pies were popular as a staple food for traveling and working people, as the pastry shell served as a baking dish, storage container, and serving vessel. Part of their popularity came from a chef’s ability to cook a pie over an open fire and to be able to alter the pie’s filling based on the available ingredients. Early pies were called “coffins” or “coffyns,” words that were frequently used to describe baskets or boxes, and featured tall, straight sides with sealed-on floors and lids. Open-top pies were referred to as “traps.” In its history, Harvard has served many pies, however the type featured at the 375th Birthday Dinner will be of a more traditional chicken variety.
Isabel Hebert, Adams House
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