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.
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?
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:
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!
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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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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 again :).
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The 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!
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.