Posted by: travelrat | May 14, 2008

The Pies Have it.

The other day, the European Union issued a Directive. Normally, I’m not the greatest fan of the EU or its directives, but this one actually made sense.

It said, in effect, that, if you make pork pies, you are no longer allowed to call them Melton Mowbray pork pies, unless your factory is somewhere near Melton Mowbray, and they’re made to the traditional recipe.

The traditional way is that practised by Dickinson & Morris, in Nottingham Street, Melton Mowbray. They’ve been making pies since Adam was a lad, and, after sampling one, you’ll never want an ersatz supermarket imitation again.

The pie case is ‘hand-raised’ … that is, formed by hand around a bottle-shaped wooden former called a ‘dolly’. When the dolly is removed, the case should be able to stand up on its own. Rings, tins or other formers are never used.

For the filling, they use coarsely-chopped uncured pork, and nothing else. Minced meat is out, and additives, apart from salt and pepper, are unmentionable. They fill the pie right up; air spaces within the crust are another sign of the inferior pie, as is the colour of the meat. That should be grey, not pink; “the colour of good roast pork”, they said.

I like to think I had something to do with this directive. When I called at the Leicestershire stand at the British Travel Trade Fair last year, they asked me to sign a petition calling for this directive, which I did … I’d recently written a piece about Melton Mowbray pork pies for ‘Global Foodie’, with which they were well pleased.

But, I couldn’t help thinking back to the Bath & West Show the previous year, where, in the food tent, I was asked to sign a similar petition, from a Somerset cheesemaker, seeking a ban on calling cheese ‘Cheddar’ unless it was made in Somerset.

I signed … and was immediately asked ‘Would you like to try some of our Stilton?’

Now, that is a protected name … and it’s made in Melton Mowbray, too!


  1. Those pies look and sound fantastic. Yum, yum, YUM!

  2. They are … and, if you want a taste at another great British tradition, have a look at .

    (I published something about Aussie pies, too, but that’s in a print magazine, so I can’t put in a link to it)

  3. So what if you still call them Melton Mowbray pork pies? Is the EU going to have you arrested? Don’t they have more pressing matters of state to be concerned with than the names people give their pies?

  4. It wouldn’t surprise me … people have been prosecuted in the past for selling stuff in God’s good pounds and ounces when they should have been using kilos!

    (But, if you make sparkling white wine, don’t even think about calling it ‘champagne’ or you’ll have a load of French lawyers on your doorstep before you can say ‘tout de suite’)

    But, I agree to a point that the Government have more pressing things to think about … I said only the other day that they shouldn’t be passing new laws, but enforcing the ones we’ve got.

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