1 August 2016 Lifting the Lid on the Meat Pie

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1 August 2016 Lifting the Lid on the Meat Pie

Perhaps even more iconic than thongs and barbies, the meat pie has been a staple Australian food since the nineteenth century – and it is the subject of an upcoming pop-up exhibition at Toormina Library.

Defined as: ‘a single serving, enclosed in pastry with a filling of meat in gravy, and typically eaten for lunch or as a snack food’, the origins of the meat pie are traced by the display from the ancient world to the home freezers and sports terraces of today.

In the earliest days of European settlement, wheat came by ship from India, but meat pies didn’t become a popular meal until a steam-driven mill that could grind wheat into flour in commercial quantities was erected in Sydney in 1815.

By 1821, Sydney had 11 mills and 52 licensed bakers producing bread, pies and other baked goods.

The trade attracted eccentric characters such as Sydney’s Flying Pieman, William Francis King, who sold pies to people getting on the Parramatta ferry at Circular Quay, then raced around to where they disembarked to sell a second helping.

The exhibition breaks down the history of the meat pie into bite-sized pieces including the introduction of tomato sauce, distribution by goat carts, the different manufacturers, its place in popular culture and how it’s viewed today.

The ‘Meat Pie: Australia’s Own Fast Food’ will be on display from Wednesday, August 17, for four weeks at Toormina Library, Minorie Drive.

The display is the outcome of a project by ASHET, the Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology, to research and record the history of the Australian meat pie.