Saturday, March 25, 2017

A potpie apostasy

Do you ever think you know what something is, and then BAM! You find out that it means something totally different? Like when I was a little girl, I thought mom and I were invited to a bridle shower, so that meant somebody was getting a horse! Then mom explained that it was a bridal shower, and it just meant somebody was getting married and I'd have to spend a weekend afternoon pretending to be excited to watch the bride-to-be open 1000 picture frames.

Well, I got that bait-and-switch feel from the National Grange Bicentennial Year Cookbook (1975-- they planned ahead!). I kept finding recipes for potpies and thinking about steamy, savory stews under a beautiful, golden-brown pie crust-- the perfect dinners for chilly spring nights. The reality, though, did not line up with my expectations:

This is just ham-- not even with any little cubes of potato for yumminess or peas or carrots for color-- with dumplings, those sodden, tasteless lumps that I always wish I liked and somehow never do. How is this a potpie? Maybe it was a typo? 

Then I found another apparent potpie impostor:

Boiled Potpie is just that-- boiled, and not finished off with a baking to get a nice golden crust. This time we have potatoes boiled in beef stock and then topped with homemade pie crust-ish, noodle-ish bits referred to as "potpies." 

So I did a little noodling (ha!) around on the internet and learned that the Pennsylvania Dutch call boiled dinners like this potpies or, if you want to get even weirder, bot(t) boi. And apparently, the Pennsylvania Dutch were also crafty enough to convince people in Maryland and New York to consider this a potpie too. 

I guess my childhood self would still be slightly more disappointed to learn that the bridle shower was really a bridal shower than to be served a bowlful of dumplings under the guise of a potpie, but not by much.


  1. East Berne, NY is right near me. And if they're known for anything it's having more trees than people and bland, pot pies

    1. Ah-- so you weren't surprised at all! I guess I have been privileged to see this as a shock.