Sunday 5 December 2010

British Stuff Review: Mince Pies

Thank you to CK for bringing up mince pies in a comment on my last post re: Christmas pudding.  I both like and dislike mince pies - I like them because seeing them in the shop means its coming up to Christmas time (hooray!), but dislike them because they are such a disappointment.  Lovely little pastry pies filled with a sweet-ish filling and usually served with custard poured over them should be good, but sadly aren't and the history behind them makes them even worse. Oh, I should also mention that in the UK, the word mince refers to what I have always called ground beef, but modern pies actually don't contain meat.  Let me explain... 

Modern Day Mince Pie
The mince pie can be traced back to the 13th centrury when the crusaders returned from Europe and the Middle East. Early mince pies were sometimes called mutton pie, shrid pie and Christmas pie. Original ingredients included minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices such as cinnamoncloves and nutmeg. This  mixture was placed in a pie crust and covered with pastry.  The recipe apparently developed as a way of preserving meat by mixing it with fruit, spices and alcohol. Ew!  Apparently, King Henry V was a big fan of these half savory/half sweet pies and demanded they were served at his coronation. Current recipes are only cooked fruit and spices (no meat), but sometimes still are made with suet, so be careful if you are a vegetarian.

If you'd like to try a mince pie, you may want to seek the advice of the Mince Pie Club, who say their mission is to find the best mince pie available in stores. They taste all the pies they can get their hands on and offer reviews on their website.  They are still tasting this season's pies, but last year decided that Morrison's The Best Baked Deep Filled Mince Pies were the cream of the crop.  For reference, Waitrose All Butter Mince Pie came a close second.   

Alternatively, for a fast food mince pie experience, you can visit McDonalds (only in the UK) who are now serving Festive Pies, which are like the McDonald's apple pies you are probably familiar with, but filled with mince pie filling and custard... I think I'll pass, thanks.
McDonald's Festive pie
courtesy of The Diary)

British Stuff Rating:  1/5 Paddington Bears


  1. Holy crap that is Crazy that Mcd's sells mincemeat pies! My mom makes a mincemeat pie every thanksgiving. Maybe she should submit it for review by the club? :)

  2. Help! I think ALL the food here looks so good, but has no flavor! Where is the good food here? Even the nachos at the movie theatre were disapointing and I love the ones in the states.

  3. LOL Suzanne. I think you get used to the less intense flavours of British food, and there are some fantastic things (read my blog about pasties if you've not yet tried them!)but, in my experience, nachos will NEVER be good in England unless you make them yourself:( My opinion: the best food you can get in the UK is Indian. Nothing beats a curry. I could eat it every day all day and be a very happy lady.