Photo: Stanislav71/Shutterstock

9 Sweet, Savory, and Downright Delicious Pies From Around the World

Food + Drink
by Nickolaus Hines Nov 22, 2019

Americans love pie — so much so that each state has its own signature style. Yet pie is not unique to the United States. Pie is beloved around the world, and each country and region has its own twist. Some are meant to be eaten on the go; others are a sit-down affair. A few are sweet; many are savory. The only consistent thing about pie is that no matter where you are in the world, you’ll always be able to find it.

These are nine famous pies you’ll likely encounter in your travels.

1. The Philippines: buko pie

Photo: K Abejuela/Shutterstock

Buko pie is a traditional Filipino pie made with young coconut and sweetened condensed milk. It was first created by Nanette Pahud at her bakery, Orient Bakery, in Laguna province on the island of Luzon in 1965. It quickly became a favorite, and today, you can find buko pie across the islands. The defining characteristic is the young coconut, or buko, which makes a custard-like filling.

2. England: Stargazy pie

Traditional Stargazy pie wtih fish heads sticking out of the crust from Mousehole, Cornwall, England

Photo: Davis Dorss/Shutterstock

Every year around Christmastime, the small Cornish village of Mousehole celebrates with a pie that has fish heads and tails poking out of the crust. It’s called stargazy pie, and though variations are made across England, Mousehole has a special connection to the fish pie thanks to an origin story that allegedly dates back to the 1500s. According to legend, storms were so bad one December that the fishermen couldn’t do their job, leading to fears that the town would starve. An enterprising man named Tom Bawcock braved the seas and brought back a catch with seven types of fish, thereby saving the town. The catch was baked into a pie with the heads and tails poking out to prove that the pie contained fish. Today, Mousehole celebrates the legend on December 23 with stargazy pie, made from white fish like ling, hake, haddock, and coley that’s mixed with herbs, lemon zest, potato, and egg.

3. Finland: kainuun rönttönen

Kainuun rönttönen are so tied to Kainuun, in Oulu Province, Finland, that the pie is registered as a distinct product of origin by the European Union. It’s an open-top pie with a rye crust and a filling of mashed potatoes, rye flour, and lingonberries (a type of Scandinavian cranberry), which gives the filling a deep red-brown color. There are around 100 different types of bread and pastries in the 86,000-person town of Kainuu, but the rönttönen has a special place in the culture. According to legend, women would use the last of the lingonberries and potatoes toward the end of winter to make this rich pie.

4. Australia: meat pie

Photo: Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Meat pies have been popular in Australia since the first Europeans arrived on the continent. The portable, hand-sized pie is a simple, hearty food made with meat (beef is popular but not the only filling), gravy, and a crust that holds it all together, all drenched in a rich tomato sauce. As for the filling, it can be anything your heart desires. EOI Bakery has recipe examples like American hot dog, beef and caramelized onion, chicken banana curry, and chocolate chili beef and chorizo. Some estimates put annual meat pie consumption in Australia between 270 million and 300 million — and get this: Australia is home to just under 25 million people.

5. Canada: Saskatoon berry pie

Photo: Joan Airey/Shutterstock

This pie is so beloved in Canada that it has its own dedicated postage stamp. Saskatoon berry pie is made with saskatoon berries, lemon, and almond. Saskatoons (also called serviceberries and juneberries in the United States) look a bit like blueberries and have a sweet and nutty flavor. The plant is indigenous to western Canada, and the name comes from the First Nations Cree language. The berries grow on a plant hardy enough for the cold Canadian winters and have long played an important (and, in the case of pie, sweet) part in Canadian life.

6. Samoa: paifala

Paifala are half-moon-shaped pies that use a coconut milk crust and a pineapple custard filling. The dessert is similar to empanadas, calzones, and hand pies, but it uses the fresh fruit of the Samoan Islands for a local twist.

7. Lebanon, Brazil, and Argentina: sfiha

Photo: Stanislav71/Shutterstock

Sfiha are meat pies that come from the Levant countries in the eastern Mediterranean. Today, sfiha are particularly linked to Lebanon and other countries in the Middle East. Sfiha is made with ground lamb, beef, or mutton, onion, parsley, pomegranate molasses, tahini, tomatoes, and a soft cheese called labneh. Immigrants brought the dish to South America in the 1900s, and the small, open-face meat pies have since become popular in Brazil and Argentina, where they’re known as esfiha.

8. Italy: crostata

Photo: AS Food studio/Shutterstock

Crostatas are simple fresh fruit pies made with a flat piece of dough that has seasonal fruit piled in the middle, and then the edges of the crust are folded inward. Each comes out a little different since there’s no dedicated pie tin deciding the shape. Other than fruit, custard, nuts, and ricotta are common fillings.

9. Libya: bureek tajin

Bureek tajin is a meat pie that’s commonly served alongside soup. It’s made with a filo dough bottom and a filling of minced meat, onion, parsley, and spices. Another layer made of more filo dough covers the top of the pie.

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