While in Pennsylvania last week, my friend Ben and I managed to return to the Mennonite bakery I loved last year. This is a bakery run by “Piker” Mennonites (basically the plainest horse-and-buggy Mennonite group), right off the main highway in Snyder County.
I saw a lot of the same favorites from last year, like fruitcake and pecan pie squares (I’ll do another post with a closer look at this re-visit). But one thing that caught my eye was the prominently-displayed mincemeat pies (I didn’t remember seeing this last year).
I had never had mincemeat pie before, so didn’t know what to expect. Mincemeat has always felt like something out of a Charles Dickens novel, but apparently a holiday treat for some. I got a “medium” size, for $8. They had a larger one for, I think, about $12.
But what is mincemeat? Wikipedia describes it as “a mixture of chopped dried fruit, distilled spirits and spices, and often beef suet, usually used as a pie or pastry filling.” The pie crust is just like the crust you’d have on a “dessert” pie.
Ben and I tried a slice each that evening. We had it cold. I have to say, my tastebuds were confused. I didn’t taste any distilled spirits. But am I eating dinner, or dessert? The meat is there, but so are raisins and a spiced sweet filling. So I was iffy on it.
We thought it might do better warmed up. A couple days later, I tried it that way. Much better I’d say. So much that the pie is almost gone. It may be that the flavor grew on me as well.
It still confuses you as to what category of dish you’re eating. I’ve had meat pies before (chicken pot pie, for example). It’s the sweet-plus-meat aspect that can throw you off. But I suppose that savory/sweet combinations in foods have only grown in popularity in recent years, with creative combinations of foods on the upswing (chicken and waffles, for instance).
This is a classic though, and one that I was finally able to try. Maybe some of you are familiar with it. In any case, it’s one I’ll try again.