I promise nowhere in here does it say “h*t d*g”
Two things are for certain in this world: England has weird food traditions, and the internet has strong opinions about sandwiches. Put ’em together and what have you got? A lot of indignant UK-based tweets about pie flavors. Today, a colleague of mine who just looooooooves to keep up with the goings on about Knifecrime Island shared this article about putting a meat pie (very English) between two slices of bread (and not just bread, but bread leavened with the gross yeasty scum at the top of fermented beverages like beer or liquor—VERY ENGLISH):
I blinked and looked at the meat-and-potato pie sandwiched between a buttered white roll. It was just a pie barm. I looked behind me to see if there was someone eating something exotic and outrageous. But no. It was me. Me and my pie barm.
The cultural history of meat pies aside, he was shocked at the idea that someone would put a carb between two carbs (tune into my new podcast, “Between Two Carbs,” launch date TBD). Yes, we told him about the “toast sandwich phenomenon.” And obviously the chip butty (French fries on a roll with ketchup and mustard, also British). We’ve been putting carbs on carbs and in carbs for quite some time. And you know what, sometimes it’s delicious, if indulgent and starchy! Potatoes on pizza? Classic Roman treat. Potato tacos? Big in Mexico, usually with the potatoes fried, and spun more recently into a food-truck delicacy by Wesley Avila of Guerrilla Tacos in L.A. Potato pierogi? Happy Lent! Fried dough on a sesame bun? Good morning, Taiwan!
Let us not forget the Spanish empanada or the Jamaican Meat Patty, both of which are sort of like cousins of the “Cornish pasty” or the “meat pie” or “pie,” depending on your ex-colony of choice. Back in 2013, Robert Sietsema called it one of Brooklyn’s best snacks in the The Village Voice. He continued, “Here’s how to make it into a meal”:
Step #1: Buy a meat patty. We prefer the spicy beef from Jamaican Pride Bakery.
Step #2: Buy a coco bread to go with it — a soft, vulvar yeast bread sweetened with coconut milk..
Step #3: Put the patty in the coco bread, The patty fits inside the coco bread like a hand inside a glove, constituting one of the world’s greatest culinary embraces.
VULVAR!! ROBERT!!!!!!!! While I appreciate the anatomical ingenuity of any good word choice, I object to it being paired so closely with the words “hand inside a glove.” But my point is this: you make do with what you’ve got, and then many hundreds of years later when your descendants have invented lots of different ways of putting foods together in delicious and possibly disgusting ways, you get interesting combinations. Hence the famous New Jersey “Italian cheeseburger” or a “Pittsburgh salad”—essentially the same items just enhanced with French fries. Or the thing where you put potato chips INSIDE your sandwich (quite good). Surely someone has thrown a calzone between two pieces of bread to save their fingers from getting greasy. In this case the bread is just an edible napkin! A vehicle for eating the contents, like a taco bowl or a bread bowl, two other horridly ingenious American foodventions. In America you can put your carbs anywhere you like. When Eater co-founder Ben Leventhal went looking for the origins of pasta on pizza, here is what he found:
Agatha Mangano of the Mangano family of Famous Original Ray’s insists that they’ve been serving the pizza since the mid-1980s, when customers started requesting it. And, so, alas, it wasn’t me. But I can take comfort in knowing it wasn’t a marketing gimmick. It was a carb-crazed customer like me. Instead of ’90s frivolity, it was ’80s excess. So now we know. Ray’s. Sometimes, the Yankees win.
Not only can you pub your carbs where you want, you can also use lettuce instead of a bun, or another patty instead of a bun, or if you’re really looking to sell some advertising, bacon and cheese between two pieces of fried chicken. I would argue that the pie sandwich is even more of a sandwich than the “Protein-Style” In-N-Out Burger or the KFC Double Down, since people seem so tied to the carb as the wrapper or envelope of the sandwich. It’s like a Turducken but a sandwich. A recursive sandwich. A sandandwich.
We should be open to sandwich invention. Also, now that most meat is carcinogenic, going extinct, or morally objectionable, y0u’re gonna need to start looking for other things to fill your sandwich with. Crickets, maybe. More sandwiches should be like peanut butter and jelly, which is more of a minimalist sandwich and hence much easier to eat without all that lettuce and tomato and avocado just sliding out when you squeeze down.
In conclusion: I love crusts, so yes, I would eat a pie sandwich.