friday feast: in denby dale, the pie’s the limit!

They’re a bit mad for giant savory pies in Denby Dale. Well, way more than a bit.

Every generation or so, the good folk in this picturesque West Yorkshire village decide to celebrate a notable event in the nation’s history by baking a monster meat and potatoes pie capable of feeding tens of thousands. Yes, you heard right. Tens of thousands.

Women of DD make the crust for the 1928 pie, which raised money for hospital charity and served 40,000 people (via HDE).

And they’ve been at it for over 200 years! Thus far, they’ve baked 10 pies for 9 pie festivals (two pies were made in 1887 because the first went rancid).

This gravy guzzling Northern England tradition began in 1788, when they thought a BIG BIG BIG PIE would be a fine way to celebrate King George III’s recovery from mental illness. The most recent Millenium Pie filled 22,000+ rumbling tummies (a 12 ton whopper at 40 ft. long x 9 ft. wide x 3.5 ft. deep). It was the biggest yet; part of the fun, you see, is to make bigger and bigger pies each time. Where’s my fork?

In 1940 this DD pie pan was melted down for the war effort (via HDE).

It’s only fitting that such magnanimous feats should be immortalized in verse, don’t you think? Yorkshire laureate Ian McMillan (well known across the pond as a poet, journalist, playwright and broadcaster) recently penned a pie poem, i.e., piem, to celebrate this crusty tradition, the overall awesomeness of pies, and the rescuing of the Denby Dale Pie Company from receivership.

Put on your biggest bib, lick your chops with gustatory gusto, and bite into it:

via Yorkshire Life

DENBY DALE PIEM

It’s pleasing to the nose
And delightful to the eye
Wait till you taste that Denby Dale pie!
It’s a symphony of crust,
Taties, gravy and meat
A Denby Dale pie makes your life complete!

They’ve been making pies in Denby Dale
For centuries and more
They’re as Yorkshire as puddings and good strong ale
You can smell ’em through the cottage door!
They’ve been eating pies in Denby Dale
Since King George was a youth!
Each massive pie could tell a tale
or a slice of historical truth!

They’re making them again
And the pie-maker’s art
Is once more close to this town’s heart!
So all those in favour
Stand and bellow Aye!
Then have a taste of that there Denby Dale Pie!

via Yorkshire Life

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If, like me, you LOVE hearing the fruity musicality of an authentic Yorkshire accent, listen to Ian reciting his piem:

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Curious to hear a bit more about all 10 pies? Check it:

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Still hungry (shall I call you ‘bottomless pit’)? Why not read this fine book about these famous behemoth pies, written by Upper Denby historian Chris Heath? He covers the history of Denby Dale pies, including the successes, failures, riots and disasters associated with making them. You didn’t think it was easy as pie all along, did you?

Interesting to note that the disastrous 1887 pie made to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee was prepared by commissioned bakers from Halifax. After the spoiled mess was buried in a field, the local village women baked another pie within a week (called the Resurrection Pie). The original recipe called for 435kg of beef, 63kg of turkey, 34 pigeons, 36 fowl, three hares, 49 rabbits, 10 grouse, 21 ducks, 300kg potatoes, and 185kg of shortcrust pastry. Burp!

Denby Dale Pies (in reasonable portion sizes, of course), are available in the freezer section of many British supermarkets. Sigh. Good reason to visit Yorkshire againπŸ™‚.

via Denby Dale Foods

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poetryfriday180The lovely and talented Doraine Bennett (she of the famous “Quiche Doraine”), is hosting today’s Roundup at Dori Reads. Roll, pat, crimp, read and enjoy. The pies have it!

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Copyright Β© 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

50 thoughts on “friday feast: in denby dale, the pie’s the limit!

    1. I agree. A hearty meat and potatoes pie would hit the spot on a cold winter’s night but personally I’d appreciate it more if it wasn’t everyday fare. I’m curious to learn more about Mr. McMillan’s exploits. He’s quite a busy guy!

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  1. Jama, you always have the most interesting and surprising posts! I love the idea of a monstrous meat pie. It’s like something that the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk would eat.πŸ™‚

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  2. How have I lived all these years not knowing about the delights of Denby Dale Pie…or piems?! Thanks, Jama, for another delicious post.

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  3. I could listen to him say “crust” and “taties” a million times! What a treat! Thanks, Jama! Here’s a quickly conjured piem:

    Lemon, key lime,
    that’s a start,
    cherry topped with braided crust:
    a pie baker’s art.
    Chocolate, peanut butter
    coconut cream pie too —
    I desperately need a slice of pie,
    what about you?

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    1. Yum! What a delicious poem, Keri. I admit I like sweet pies more than savory ones. I’m dreaming of a giant banana cream or blueberry pie.πŸ™‚

      And I’m with you — when Ian said “crust” he had me!

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  4. I know we have traditions here in the US, but this takes the cake, um pie I mean! What a marvelous thing to do that, and thanks much for sharing the wonderful poem, too, Jama. For us, it is a treasure to “hear” the accents! The pie looks quite wonderful, doesn’t it? Hard to believe it’s that large!

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    1. Not only is it a great tradition, but I admire the community effort and organization required to make it happen. It must be a source of great pride for anyone from Denby Dale to be able to lay claim to the world’s biggest pies.πŸ™‚

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  5. I’m almost certain I have a rhyming picture book in my collection about making a giant pie–and it MUST be based on this true pie story! (Can’t rustle up the title from my Friday night brain right now.) I wonder why I never heard about Denby Dale while I lived 5 years in London? Yum yum yum. Thanks, Jama!

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  6. Wow – Ian could go up on your Eye Candy feature, Jama (or maybe not Eye Candy, but Ear Candy?) Wouldn’t you love to have him read The Secret Garden aloud to you, chapter by chapter? He has the perfect Yorkshire voice for old Ben Weatherstaff, and for young Dickon. Thanks for posting the video along with the poem.

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    1. Julie, you have me swooning! He’d be PERFECT as Ben or Dickon, or to narrate the entire book. I need to find out more about him. I think he has a radio program too.

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  7. I am thinking that this can feed a herd of giants! Love the video clips! The things I learn everyday thanks to Poetry Friday folks. Now I’m hungry!πŸ™‚

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    1. You mean you have room for PIE after “borrowing” all those chocolate chip cookies from the Pomegranate Inn? Your new name: Erik the Great Eater

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      1. Hah! Eat-again — If I could be certain people would pronounce it correctly, I’d change my name to that legally.πŸ™‚ As it is, both my first and last names are always mispronounced.

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      2. People have said “Yama,” “Hama,” “Jamma,” “Jana,” “Jamaica,” and “Jawmah.”

        “Jama” is actually a made-up name after my parents, James and Margaret. Take the first two letters of their names and you have Jama, which is pronounced with a long “a” in the first syllable, like James.πŸ™‚

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