July 7th, 2014

Etymology of the phrase "hand pie"

I went over to google trends, and it looks like this is a very US-centric term, and it is of recent vintage: July 2010. So then I searched on July 2010 "hand pie", and found this Martha Stewart recipe.


It is undated, but has two comments, the earliest is dated April 2010, which has a link to a blog ... which 404s. Alas, both of the internet archive/wayback machine saves for the link also 404'ed back when they were first saved. But the blog still exists, so let's see if I can find the content.

Aha! May have been a simple date typo (dunno how that happened; possibly the author typed it in by hand? Redated the post? *shrug* She's got years of traffic driven to her blog's 404 page from a comment on Martha Stewart's site).


"I brought along strawberry hand pies from Martha."

So it looks like the Martha Stewart Strawberry Hand Pie show probably pre-dated the end of April, which makes sense, given the strawberry season. I have no idea how to find out which episode it originally aired in. And I don't care, because we have a lot of reason to believe at this point that Martha Stewart's crowd is the primary amplifier of the term. What did they intend to include in what is clearly a cross-cuisine category?


This is _savory_ hand pies, with a list of recipes that includes empanadas, pasties, pot pies, and a bunch of "hand pies" which have clearly have had their culture-of-origin terms erased entirely. (I wonder what that Alsatian potato pie started life as?)

The "hand pie" cross-cuisine term, however, predates 2010.

From 2009, an apple hand pie:


From 2008: a peach hand pie:


From 2007, a blueberry vegan hand pie:


They used margarine, altho they call it "vegan butter" in the recipe.

2006 Nola savory hand pies:


Martha Stewart claims this was from the October 2005 Martha Stewart Living; that might actually be checkable.


Oh, look here! An index!


Both the Alsatian Potato Hand Pie and the Cauliflower and Manchego Hand Pie appear in this issue. We may have ground zero for "hand pie" as a term.

Still here? Summary: Martha Stewart's crowd invented the "hand pie" as a cross-cultural term for savory and sweet pastries that can be held in the hand. It appeared originally in the October 2005 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. It was, from early on, if not the very beginning, intended to capture this idea from cultures around the world, including empanadas. And actually, empanadas survived on recipes within the Martha Stewart empire much better than terms from many other contributing cuisines.

I'm a little surprised it took 5 years for google trends to notice, and then a few more years for "hand pie" shops to start opening up in touristy places, to go with all the pinning on pinterest and so forth.

ETA: Crap. I posted too soon. I'm totally wrong on this. It is older. I'll be back later.

Okay. Still with Martha Stewart Living and back to the index:


So we're at least back to October 1996.

I'm not entirely certain how much I believe this (or the 1998) earlier example. "Hand pie" does not appear within the body of the recipe, only in the title, so it's possible somebody edited it; it would be nice to see the actual original magazine to confirm that "hand pie" really does appear within it. "Hand pie" occurs within the body of the recipes by 2005. It is not fruitful to search on hand pie and early dates places like epicurious, because a lot of older recipes are tagged "hand pie", but do not include the actual term (the term really did take off after 2010). This supplies further evidence that this is intended as a a culinary term that does two important things. The most important thing is it takes some weight off of the heavily overused and highly confusing "tart". The other thing it does is identify a particular kind of food prep (pastry shell, hand-sized, sweet or savoury filling that you took some care to reduce the sogginess of) that virtually every foodway has used sooner or later. Since the modern/current recipes are all going to do modern/current things with the fillings (our pasties are going to be comparatively lard-free, for example), there's little point in retaining the traditional terms. These are not the traditional items -- they are a contemporary item, deserving a contemporary, functional, identifier.

Funny quote about the dairy industry

On the one hand, a lot of my ancestry worked as dairymen. On the other hand, I'm allergic to milk products. Let's just say I love a good quote that takes a poke at the dairy industry.

This is from "Fat Under Fire" in the May 2014 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter, published by Center for Science in the Public Interest. The article is an interview with Martijn Katan of the Vrije Universiteit and he is being quoted.

Interviewer asks: "Are some researchers intent on showing that saturated fat does not cause heart disease?"

Katan replies: "Unfortunately, yes. In November 2008, the global dairy industry held a meeting in Mexico City where they decided that one of their main priorities was to "neutralize the negative impact of milkfat by regulators and medical professionals." In my experience, people who work for dairy companies are very competent, highly motivated, and hardworking, and they really believe in milk. When they set out to do something, they get it done."

I _love_ it when the set up is a sincere, detailed and believable compliment which makes the punchline that much more powerful.



Google Islamic religious opinion on whether one should wear a watch on the right arm or the left.

I mention this, because which arm to wear a watch on used to be a ridiculous way to start an argument; turns out you still can in some communities, and, just like with kosher rules and everything else, it isn't the obvious thing (the whole left hand is the dirty hand). There's at least one strain of thinking that says wear it on the right to differentiate from, well, everyone else? I don't understand the term used.

I mention this because R. and I were watching TRMS, which inevitably showed part of the al-Baghdadi video. We spent a bunch of time rewinding to try to figure out why he was walking funny. I initially chalked it up to some sort of pretentious slow walk (like a stutter step for bridesmaids at a wedding), but then we noticed that his left hand was weird: immobilized and hanging part of the time, and parked on his torso, Napoleon style, part of the time. R. saw his thumb move, so we don't think full paralysis like from a stroke. Between the conspicuously weird walk, the abrupt sit down then stand up later, and the oddity of the left hand, well, we wondered what it all meant. Meanwhile, Maddow was drawing attention to the possibly expensive watch (after covering earlier embarrassment for the Russian orthodox head-of-church on a related issue). And then I realized, hey, that watch is on the wrong hand. I first concluded (because my first conclusion is wrong. A lot.) that he was a lefty (ha ha! Try being left handed and hard core Muslim. Don't think that's going to go well), and then I thought maybe further evidence of the severity of the injuries on his left side.

And then I went, I wonder if there's some rules about which hand to wear a watch on. And sure enough, there were.

Text-based religions are _so_ predictable.

ETA: I found at least one forum loaded with a bunch of debate about whether men wear watches on their right and women on the left or vice versa. Because sure enough, they can't bring themselves to look around and go, duh. It's not gender based. Same forum brought up whether wearing it on one side or the other made one "gay" (and, obvs, in an insulting way). There are days when I feel like Bill Maher is completely reasonable, and reading stuff like this tends to put me in that headspace.