You might think there is nothing to it but, ohhhhh you’d be wrong! We’re talking about eating the famous New Zealand pies here, which is a very important cultural experience you absolutely must have whilst you are visiting. Hot pies straight from the pie warmer have their appeal in convenience and flavour. We’ve already talked about the types of pies available and where to buy them, but there are just a couple of secrets to enjoying a pie that you need to take note of.
Firstly, pies come both hot or cold. While it is OK to eat some pies cold, most of us prefer them hot because there is nothing quite like breaking into the pastry to have the steam and scent of the filling wafting out at you. This means that if you buy a pie at the supermarket or some dairies (NZ English for convenience store) and they come straight from the fridge, you may have a problem. The best advice, if you are on the hoof and have no access to an oven, is to look around for a pie warmer so that you can buy a hot pie. If there isn’t one, ask if there is a microwave you can use. If not, I’d check to see if there is another place to buy your pie.
Secondly, you sometimes find that there is a big bottle of tomato sauce (ketchup) with a pump on it where you buy your pie. Some people actually insert the nozzle into the pie and inject the tomato sauce. I’m sure you think I’m joking, but pies are a serious business in New Zealand and believe me when I tell you I would not lead you astray. If you are not keen (which I’m not) you can just put the sauce on the side or leave it off altogether. There is total freedom of choice when it comes to adding tomato products to your pie.
Thirdly, and this is one of the best secrets, there is a way to ensure your hot pie does not get soggy. When you buy a wrapped pie from a pie warmer, the trick is to open both sides of the wrapper almost as soon as you’ve retrieved the pie. Do this just as soon as you pay. Time is of the essence! As you walk back to your car, picnic bench, or other chosen eatery, your pie will remain warm from the inside (so long as you don’t dawdle, of course) yet the steam will be able to escape keeping the pastry crispy and delicious.
The final piece of advice about pies that have been sitting in the pie warmer for a long time is to “always remember to blow on the pie” (actual footage of a police officer talking to someone about pies).
Please feel free to comment about your pie-eating adventures in the comments.
Photo by Marie Szamborski