New Zealand has the best meat pies in the world. No debate. It's not just the gourmet bakery pies either. We have great pies everywhere in this country. Our pie warmers are on fire (sometimes literally).
To New Zealanders, the pie is more than just a meal. It's a statement of national identity. How you get one down your throat says a lot about who you are.
Experts have identified five key pie consumption techniques. The fuel up, the aristocrat, the upgrader, the production line and the autopsy. Before we drill deeper into each of these methods and their high profile proponents, let's look into the significance of July for the pie.
Beer and Pie July is an age-old tradition (now in its third year). Kiwis commit to eating a pie and drinking a beer every day for the month of July. With festivals up and down the country, it has become a mid-winter bright spot.
July 1st I matched a Cardrona merino lamb rib pie with an Emerson's London Porter and it changed my life. But Beer and Pie July doesn't have to be that flash. A steak N mush and a Speights is just as good.
July's love of pies reaches fever pitch on the 30th with the Bakels New Zealand Pie Awards. The night of nights. It says a lot about us as a country that the fanciest ceremony on the Kiwi calendar celebrates pie makers.
Of course without eaters, there would be no need for bakers. So how do New Zealanders eat their pies? These are the key pie consuming groups.
The Fuel Up
This is how our tradies generate the energy they need to keep this country going. It's an 'on the go' method. You grab a pie from the servo and smash it into your face while steering the ute with the other hand. Generally a delicious mince and cheese from the likes of Dad's pies. Interestingly media superstar and Seven Sharp Host Hilary Barry is a huge fan of this method. She's not a tradie but whether she's on the couch rehearsing, conducting in-depth interviews or sitting in the makeup chair. Hils Baz always looks to smash a pie one-handed.
A controversial method. Like the sandwich, the pie is designed to keep the hands clean while you eat. However some in the upper crust of New Zealand society snub that functionality and reach for a knife and fork. Proponents enjoy the control it gives them. Detractors claim it slows the whole process down. Undermining everything a kiwi pie stands for. Hits breakfast host, cricket Journalist and great New Zealander Laura McGoldrick is a huge fan of the knife and fork approach. As are most people from Fendalton in Christchurch and Remuera in Auckland.
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These types rip the lid off, put sauce directly on the meat then pop the lid back. No one knows why. Famous Upgraders include Sir Edmund Hilary, Rob Muldoon and more recently the Hairy Jav.
The Production Line
This one is for the perfectionists like All Black and Crusaders captain Kieran Read. He has his sauce bottle on hand through out the whole operation. Adding a new squirt to the coal face of the pie after every bite. This is about conveyer belt-like precision. It's the kind of attention to detail the man brings to every aspect of his life. The kind of attention that will win us the World Cup.
An unpopular and creepy operation. Proponents methodically cut around the lid of the pie then gently place it to one side. Next, they remove the innards of the pie onto a plate and consume them separately. Leaving behind an horrific hollowed out pastry corpse. Radio Hauraki breakfast host Jeremy Wells is a huge fan of this method. Which says a lot about the man.
Pies are important to Kiwis. They are in our DNA. Some times pie DNA gets on our shirts. But whichever of the five main consumption groups you fit into, July is the time to show your pride. You can do this by getting amongst Beer and Pie July, following the pie awards or by simply taking a minute to really appreciate New Zealand's national dish. The delicious meat pie.