September 12 2006 : Australian trade officials have announced that the revered meat pie is to follow a procession of local products, including Holden cars and Foster's beer, to the lucrative US market. Victorian-based Patties Foods, which makes the Four'N Twenty pie, said it had secured a distributor for its products and had shipped the first container of pies to the US. 'Meat pies are a new experience for American consumers brought up on hot dogs and burgers..'
Be afraid, be very afraid. Not only were you, my dear friends domiciled in the United States, all apparently 'brought up on hot dogs and burgers', a frightening enough fate as it is, but now your weakened constitutions are to be further tested by exposure to the Orstralian meat pie.
I really don't know how I'm going to make these things sound appetising, they are fondly known here as 'maggot bags'Â afterall, but in order to assist our brave young exporters I'll do my best to make them sound divine. Sacrifice my usual level of accurate reporting? Intrepidly place commercial interests above journalistic integrity? Risk my unchallenged reliability in the murky quicksands of hyperbole? Dare to dip the delicate digits of my discourse in the dingy drain of disreputable dissertation? Yep, sounds fair to me.
The meat pie is considered the national food of Orstralia. There was a jingle some years back, advertising something, that went "Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars..dum dum dum dum de dum de dee." Perhaps it was advertising Holden cars. I have no clue now of course, it havingÂ been assigned along with my ATM number into the abyss of mad cow disease. The point however is that those four things were supposed to exemplify everything that means 'Orstralia' to the world. I've attended many a game of footy for sure, I've certainly run across (and over) the odd kangaroo, I lost my virginity in an HG Holden station wagon like any patriotic Orstralian lass should, and so of course I've also consumed about forty thousand meat pies in my time.
Way way back in the early years of our nation's federation, a couple of flour-bespeckled bakery types transformed the traditional British meat pie into a single serve, hand-held item that could be comfortably consumed while cradling a cup of cold CoopersÂ in the other hand. The pastry forÂ our meat piesÂ has to be good and solid as it acts as both protective shield for the toxic muck inside and as a serving plate. The muck inside contains minced carrion in a gelatinous spicy gravy. Salivating yet?
Four N Twenty Pies (Four parts salt, twenty parts butcher shop sweepings?) from Victoria started in the forties, Sargents Pies in New South Wales reckon they've been in the game since the twenties. I'm a bit partial to Mrs Mac's pies myself.Â Â These are from our darling friends in the west and can be found in every service station hot-box in the country. Apart from these national suppliers every small bakery concern has their own meat pies and there are even boutique purveyors who have expanded on the original theme by making a meat pie that contains, in the way of contents, identifiable meat. Getting a bit peckish aren't we?
There is a regulatory board (Food Standards Australia New Zealand) that insists our meat pies have at least 25 % meat therein. The word 'meat' however is not defined in the list of ingredients on the packets and according to FSANZ may be any or all of the following: ".. beef, buffalo, camel, cattle, deer, goat, hare, pig, poultry, rabbit and sheep. Kangaroo meat, a leaner alternative, is also sometimes used." (Wikipedia )Â Drooling in anticipation, yes?
In pubs throughout the land the "Five Course Businessman's Lunch' has always meant a pie and four beers. An arvo at the footy always required a coupla pies be scoffed down at half time. With the invention of the internal combustion engine thousands of pie vans appeared about the country; at building sites, outside school yards and on city corners everywhere. Even as late as the mid-seventies we had a recklessly unrepentant recalcitrant recidivist pie-vanner illegally park outside my high school every little lunch, taking business away from the tuckshop ladies' more nutritious salad rolls. Folks of my ilk far preferred a pastry case filled with gristle, gravy and goat guts to anything resembling vitamins. You really really want one now, I can tell.
So, if you come across an Orstralian Four'N Twenty pie in the freezer section of your local supermarket some time soon and bravely figure ''what the hell", by all means give them a burl. They're probably no more nutritionally void than a serve of fries, no more drenched in salt and fat than a bucket of good popcorn, their contents no more disgusting to contemplate than those of a hot dog frank. And what will be most satisfying after you've tried these little pearlers will be the knowledge that if you survive eating a meat pie, you develop an immunity to the bite of the funnel web spider. This is the sole reason any Orstralians survive to adulthood.
In the time I've been writing about iconic Orstralian foods for you, my fellow Gatherites, I've gained an average of five pounds a week. This is not something my already ShatneredÂ body needs so for the next few articles I'll be discussing less calorific Orstralian icons like the Hills Hoist clothes line, the Coolabah wine cask and the Victor motor mower. IfÂ I attend to these with the same enthusiasm and suggestibility as has occurred with my food articles I might even get some washing hung out and the lawn mowed. I can't possibly become more enthusiastic about wine casks so there'll be no change in that regard.
Other Iconic Orstralian Food articles:
TimtamsÂ Â (Tagged for adult content because timtams are such sluts.)