Pie Barm - Gastro Obscura
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Prepared Foods

Pie Barm

Nothing to see here, just a humble pie sandwich.

Wigan, an English town west of Manchester, is known for its enthusiastic pie-eating, even hosting the annual World Pie Eating Championship. Small wonder, then, that Wiganers devised myriad ways to eat their pie, including one that requires no cutlery. Enter the pie barm, a meat pie sandwiched between a buttered roll.

The roll in question is known as a “barm cake,” which means it was leavened with barm (the foam at the top of any fermented beverage, usually beer). This ingenious manner of pie degustation ensures the fastest consumption of hot, meat-filled pastry, no utensils needed, because the bun protects hands from getting burnt. The pie sauces are absorbed in the barm cake, meaning a no-mess meal on the go. Really, it’s as easy as pie.

Need to Know

Wiganers attempted to send a meat-and-potato pie to space in a high-altitude weather balloon in 2016 (it didn’t make it). The townspeople are also known as “Pie Eaters” in neighboring towns. Local lore suggests the coinage came from the 1926 General Strike that shut down English industry for nine days when millions of workers went on strike to protest pay cuts. Starving miners in Wigan were allegedly the first to cave and return to work, thus eating “humble pie.”

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