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Is a quiche classified as a pie?
April 3, 2013 2:18 AM   Subscribe

My boyfriend says that quiches are not pies. I say they can be classified as egg pies. Which of us is right?
posted by peter1982peter to Food & Drink (55 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I take it that he's relying on the principle that pies are always sweet. But there are plenty of savory pies: pot pies, mincemeat pies, stargazy pies, those pies that explode into a flock of doves when you cut into them. In light of these pies, it's hard to see what would keep quiche from being a pie.
posted by painquale at 2:23 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


All pies have lids. A quiche does not have a lid, ergo, a quiche is not a pie.
posted by emilyw at 2:23 AM on April 3, 2013


Not all pies have lids. Key lime pie does not have a lid.
posted by painquale at 2:26 AM on April 3, 2013 [36 favorites]


Not all pies have lids: See pecan pie and key lime pie.


All pies do have pastry crusts though and are baked. Ergo, quiches are pies!
posted by astapasta24 at 2:27 AM on April 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


Way back in the old days, when I was young and dinosaurs roamed the earth, Quiche Lorraine was known as egg and bacon pie.

And according to that impeccable source, Wikipedia:

A pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that covers or completely contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients.

Pies are defined by their crusts. A filled pie (also single-crust or bottom-crust), has pastry lining the baking dish, and the filling is placed on top of the pastry, but left open. A top-crust pie, which may also be called a cobbler, has the filling in the bottom of the dish and the filling covered with a pastry or other covering before baking. A two-crust pie has the filling completely enclosed in the pastry shell. Flaky pastry is a typical kind of pastry used for pie crusts, but many things can be used, including baking powder biscuits, mashed potatoes, and crumbs.


Your boyfriend is wrong, and you are right.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 2:34 AM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Quiche Brief: THIS CASE INVOLVES a petition for enforcement brought by the Federal Quiche Commission, an independent regulatory agency in the Department of Agriculture. The Commission seeks to enforce an order against The Left Bank Pizzeria of New Haven, Connecticut, requiring the respondent establishment to conform to the Commission's Uniform Quiche Content, Shape and Labelling Requirements as set out in the Commission's regulations found at 3,410 C.F.R. § 1901 (A)(2)(a).

...

We contend, therefore, that the order of the Commission requiring respondent to change its name to The Left Bank Tomato Quicherie be enforced in its entirety and that the deportation of respondent's chief executive officer and chef occur forthwith.
posted by painquale at 2:35 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or tarts, which also have pastry crusts and are baked.

Look, given than pizzas are called pizza pies in some parts the distinction is moot. There is no hard and fast definition of what is a pie or not. It's now more of a catchall term.

They are, technically, part of the tart family. They are a savoury tart.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:35 AM on April 3, 2013


A quiche is a tart.

A pie generally is baked in a dish that has sloping sides. The pastry goes up the sides and over the lip of the dish. A pie usually has a lid or a lattice of pastry.

A tart (such as a quiche) is baked in a tart dish with upright sides and there is no overlap of pastry at the top of the dish.
posted by essexjan at 2:37 AM on April 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


Another distinction is that a quiche is usually made in a loose-bottomed tart tin so the quiche can be removed, placed on a plate and sliced for serving. A pie is usually served out of the dish in which it's baked.
posted by essexjan at 2:43 AM on April 3, 2013


It depends partly on where you live. Here in the UK "pies" are by tradition things that have pastry lids or lattices - but we also have pecan pie and key lime pie, which are imported from the US and have kept their names. So in the UK, a quiche is not a pie of the traditional sort (it's a tart, as essexjan says).

In the US the definition of pie seems to be different, so it may well be a pie in the US.

You may be right and/or wrong. Two different things can be true in two places at the same time (when talking of word definitions)!
posted by altolinguistic at 2:49 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're both right, but you are more right. You can call any of these things pies, and only those who adhere to prescriptive language more than they understand that things are what people call them will disagree:

Quiche
Shepherd's pie
Key lime pie
Pecan pie
Lemon chess pie
Grasshopper pie
Pumpkin pie
Moon pie
Cow pie
Trivial Pursuit pie (game piece)
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:23 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I've seen quiches explicitly described as "cheese pie" or "breakfast pie" in recipes and menus. What's your boyfriend's argument against quiche as pie?
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:24 AM on April 3, 2013


It is indeed egg pie.
posted by windykites at 3:29 AM on April 3, 2013


Also, re: the tart argument- a pie is a type of tart.
posted by windykites at 3:36 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The criteria here is the pastry crust, I think. Unlike a gallette, which has a free-form crust and is baked on a sheet pan, a pie is baked in a pie tin or other high-sided container. It differed from a tart in having more depth. Kids, as pointed out above, are optional and irrelevant to the classification.

The filling is a savory custard, making quiche a close relative of the key lime pie. Note that both these pastries are baked dry, rather than in a water bath, as is frequent for the cheesecake, another custard preparation (without, obviously, the pastry shell).

I am speaking here as a librarian and occasional quiche-cooker.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:13 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


We're back in "is cereal a soup" territory, aren't we?

I would contend that for most reasonable standards of gastronomic taxonomy, a quiche is a pie.

I would also get all Socratic on boyfriend's pie-denying ass. If quiche is NOT pie, then what is it? Is quiche its own thing? If so, what distinguishes it from pie? And if he answers "eggs" (which he will, because he is a big dummy who thinks quiche is not pie) then I would ask what is it about eggs that magically conveys non-pie status when poured into a pastry shell, unlike the myriad other pie fillings from savory to sweet? Could there be an "egg pie", and if so, what would distinguish it from quiche?

After this logic bomb explodes in his head, he will see the light and admit that quiche is, in fact, pie.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:20 AM on April 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


a quiche is usually made in a loose-bottomed tart tin

Now, I know what a 'quiche pan' looks like (viz: as described), but the 'usually' part must be a regional thing. Here I see quiche after quiche in pie plates. Buy an entire ready-made quiche, get an aluminum pie plate.

In Mastering the Art of French Cooking one turns to 'quiche' to see

OPEN-FACED TARTS
Quiches

Larousse Gastronomique calls them 'savoury custard tarts.' And adds the complication that "The name quiche is also used for some sweet custard tarts served as a sweet."

The Joy of Cooking declines to weigh in but, under the 'quiches,' has recipes for CHEESE CUSTARD PIE and ONION OR LEEK PIE.

In Michel Roux's Eggs the quiche recipe is preceded by instructions for flan pastry, which "makes the perfect case for tarts, tartlets and quiche."

Doris M. Townsend's Cheese Cookery has a section on SAVORY PIES, which mentions "pizza and quiche, the two savory pies in this section..."

The New Best Recipe mostly stays out of this but does refer to "the pie shell" in the Lorraine recipe.

Cookwise starts talking about quiches under Baked custards but then says "A baked custard can be a flan..., a quiche, or even a cheesecake..."

There are recipes for both "Onion Tart" and "Onion Quiche" in Gourmet's France.

My argument at this point, given the nationalities/geographic leanings of the authors of the above, would be that it may properly be called a "pie" within the USA, but not outside of the USA.
posted by kmennie at 4:22 AM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Of course it's a pie. It's an egg pie. Or an egg and bacon pie.

No quiche in this house. No sir. The odd egg pie is OK though.
posted by pompomtom at 4:40 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


[So that this doesn't turn into just a long yay-or-nay opinion poll, please offer some sort of info, explanation, source, or reference rather than "I think it is/isn't." Thanks.]
posted by taz at 4:48 AM on April 3, 2013


And if he answers "eggs" (which he will, because he is a big dummy who thinks quiche is not pie) then I would ask what is it about eggs that magically conveys non-pie status when poured into a pastry shell, unlike the myriad other pie fillings from savory to sweet?

Indeed, there are plenty of custard pies and custard is just eggs, dairy, and sugar. I submit that a quiche, being made of eggs and dairy is just a savory custard pie.
posted by TungstenChef at 4:53 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


A quiche is a tart.
A pie generally is baked in a dish that has sloping sides. The pastry goes up the sides and over the lip of the dish. A pie usually has a lid or a lattice of pastry.


It looks like quiches are baked like tarts and like pies.
posted by nikkorizz at 5:06 AM on April 3, 2013


Merriam Webster defines quiche as an "unsweetened custard pie" while Oxford calls it a "baked flan or tart."

Larousse defines the French word "quiche" as a "tarte" but "tarte" can translate to pie or tart in English.

The word "quiche" derives from the Alsatian word Kichel/Kuche, which comes from the German word "Kuchen" which means cake. However, in German, Kuchen can be used for any number of baked items, including Tarte and Quiche (for which there are separate words borrowed from the French). A Quiche is a type of Tarte, and a Tarte is a type of Kuchen.

"Pie" comes from Middle English meaning any kind of pastry.

So, depending on where you are (US/UK), a quiche could be a pie, but technically a quiche is a cake.
posted by melissasaurus at 5:12 AM on April 3, 2013


During the annual Pie Day at my place of employment, a most august and distinguished tradition of stuffing huge amounts of pastry into one's face, quiches are served as pies.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:14 AM on April 3, 2013


I came in here to say the same as melissasaurus, on late-by-a-minute preview. Definition of quiche, for some linkage including the French and German origins!
posted by fraula at 5:14 AM on April 3, 2013


I think the other posters are focusing on the wrong definition. There is but one questipon to ask yourself when trying to determine if something is a pie. Can it be served with ice cream?

Sure, anything can and should be served with ice cream. It is a pie.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:21 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The way to solve any of these "Is X a Y? My friend says it is not." questions is to ask this friend to craft a simple definition for Y that excludes X without being arbitrary, but does not exclude other things that he would define as Y. In this example, I would have a hard time coming up with a definition that does so, but there are always going to be examples that skirt whatever lines you might draw and will cause problems. Things to consider in this specific case: deep dish pizza, baklava, beef Wellington.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:39 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


As an Australian whose national dish is the meat pie (in its many delicious permutations) I would argue against the with ice cream definition.
posted by wwax at 5:40 AM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


technically a quiche is a cake

Now, come on. This is like saying that someone who breaks a window isn't a vandal, because vandals are technically a Germanic people who invaded North Africa in the later Roman Empire....

I think the problem is that tart and pie are, globally, sort of synonyms, with one term preferred in one place and the other in others. To my mind, a tart is generally shallower than a pie, allowing for all sorts of dense fillings that would be horrible in greater volume (I've had tarts that were essentially filled with ganache). Which is the ur-concept, I am unsure, and do not have access to reference books which would establish whether a pie is a deep tart or a tart is a shallow pie. All of this is further confused by the idea of "hand pies," including pasties, calzones, and even pop tarts, which are somewhat like pies, but also like sandwiches. One possible element of definition is that pies, quiche, and tarts are all cut radially, which allows for the "pizza pie" option as well (although I discard that as a cutesy malapropism, myself -- a pizza is more of a gallette).

As for the ice cream issue -- a) anything could be served with ice cream (which is, after all, only a frozen whipped custard that can be flavored any way you like) and b) this would define ice cream as a pie, since ice cream is often served with different ice cream (or, if you reject that as recursive, a banana could be a pie...).
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:45 AM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here in the deep south USA, I have never seen a quiche prepared in anything but a regular pie pan - and often with store bought pie crust.

It is a pie.
posted by pointystick at 5:56 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think "who's right" depends entirely on semantics - and the best way to address semantics is to hear both of your definitions of the word "pie".

What I mean is - is the reason that you say it is and he says it's not is because you're saying "it's got a crust" and he's saying "but it's not sweet"? Or is it because he's saying "but it doesn't have a crust on top therefore it is a tart"? Or some other reason?

If he's got the whole "but it's not sweet" thing going on, then you're wholly in the right because pies can be savory. But if he's arguing from a position of "but it doesn't have a crust on top", then we're getting into the whole pie vs. tart divide, and that's murkier territory.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:01 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


A quiche is indeed a pie: 'pie' is a really, really broad category. Quiches, tarts, cobblers and cheesecakes all qualify as pies.

Pies can be sweet like fruit pies, savory like egg & bacon pie or onion pie; there's meat pies like chicken pot pies or steak & kidney pie. Pies can have one crust on the bottom, like key lime or lemon merangue pie; one crust on the top, like cobblers; two crusts, on the top and the bottom; or a crust on the bottom and an open lattice on top. Various forms of crusts include but are not limited to pastry, biscuits, mashed potatoes (like shepard's pie) or cracker crumbs. Pies can be single-serving like a turnover or big enough to serve several people. Pies can be made in flat-bottomed tart pans, pie plates, or straight-sided springform pans.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to find me a pie.
posted by easily confused at 6:11 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been making quiche (and eating the quiches made by other people) for decades and I've never made it and rarely had it when it wasn't baked in a regular pie pan with sloping sides, so no, a quiche is not not a quiche if made this way. This is in the U.S.

What is your boyfriend's definition of "pie"?
posted by rtha at 6:17 AM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I make my quiche in a store-bought frozen pie crust. Clearly that makes my quiche, at least, pie. In fact, I am about to make tiny quiches with leftover Easter ham in store-bought frozen tart crusts. I'm curious about what your boyfriend thinks a quiche is, if not pie?
posted by looli at 6:49 AM on April 3, 2013


In How To Cook Everything, Mark Bittman calls a quiche a "savory open-faced pie." It's also called a pie in the description of this Julia Child video, so case closed! Good luck finding a new boyfriend!
posted by antonymous at 6:52 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


For all the reasons mentioned above, a quiche is a pie. And for all the reasons mentioned above, it isn't. That makes it a pie, just not a central member of the category "pie".
posted by ipsative at 6:56 AM on April 3, 2013


Alton Brown calls a quiche a "custard pie".

Pecan pie also contains eggs (because the filling is also a custard).
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:03 AM on April 3, 2013


You know they used to call pizzas "pizza pie." I'm serious.

On one hand, I think a quiche could be called a pie-on the other hand, I don't think if you look in a cookbook that a quiche is in the pie section. Tomato, tomahto.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:23 AM on April 3, 2013


kmennie: Larousse Gastronomique calls them 'savoury custard tarts.'
melissasaurus: Larousse defines the French word "quiche" as a "tarte" but "tarte" can translate to pie or tart in English.

And, in fact, the Larousse Gastronomique goes on to define "tart" as (emph. mine)
A pastry case (shell) filled, before or after baking, with savoury or sweet ingredients. [...] The American term often used is open pie.
I've personally never heard a pie referred to as an "open pie" in the US, but whatever. Anyways, its definition of "pie" goes like this (also emph. mine):
The French have adopted the English word for the classic British and American pies. A pie consists of a filling topped with a crust and baked. Pastry is the usual crust, and the filling can be savoury or sweet. [...]

Confusion often arises over the terms pie and tart. Traditionally, the British pie is made in a deep dish and has a pastry lid but not a pastry base. The traditional pie dish has a wide rim on which to place a strip of pastry to which the top crust can be attached once the filling is in place. [...]

A British tart is shallow, baked on a tart plate which is deeper than a standard dinner plate with a pastry base and a lid. [...] American pies can have a bottom crust but no lid, and the would generally be known as tarts in Britain.
Consider some of the classic pies without a lid: key lime pie, pecan pie, shoofly pie, pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, bean pie, sugar pie. These all seem to me to be pretty distinctly American. So, maybe there's an American vs. British/French divide on the necessity of a lid in the definition of pie?
posted by mhum at 8:57 AM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I asked for a slice of pie, and you brought me quiche, I would not consider my request to have been fulfilled. So, since it fails in a context of substitution, I'm going with: not pie.
posted by thelonius at 9:20 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was going to say pies are sweet, but then I remembered shepherd's pie. I guess a quiche could be called a pie, except for the fact that it's not called a pie. You use pie crust and pie pans to make it, so...
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:21 AM on April 3, 2013


thelonius: If I asked for a slice of pie, and you brought me quiche, I would not consider my request to have been fulfilled. So, since it fails in a context of substitution, I'm going with: not pie.

That's a pretty compelling argument, actually.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:22 AM on April 3, 2013


If someone served me a slice of quiche when I asked for a generic pie, I'd be annoyed that she was ignoring the fact that I almost definitely meant sweet pie, since that's what the great majority of pies are. But that doesn't mean that she wasn't fulfilling my request. If I got snarky with her, she'd probably tell me that pie is a pretty broad term and if I'm so particular about my pies, then I should have been more specific.
posted by skewed at 9:51 AM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I almost definitely meant sweet pie, since that's what the great majority of pies are.

True in the US, but not nearly as obvious elsewhere. Savory pies are common elsewhere, even rising to the iconic: steak and kidney, pork, veal and ham, and on and on.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 12:19 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love savory pies and much less so sweet pies. Actually, I don't particularly like quiche, but I'd call quiche a pie if asked
posted by mumimor at 1:16 PM on April 3, 2013


anything could be served with ice cream (which is, after all, only a frozen whipped custard that can be flavored any way you like) and b) this would define ice cream as a pie, since ice cream is often served with different ice cream (or, if you reject that as recursive, a banana could be a pie...).
Now you're just being silly. Ice cream is not pie.

I've had egg-and-bacon pie, and it has a pastry lid on top. Quiche is different. Quiche is flan. Why is no one looking up the etymology of flan? And an egg-and-bacon quiche is much more custardy than an egg-and-bacon flan.

Pies have pastry on the top. But then again, I've heard of pizza pie - that's not even pastry, so obviously there are regional variations.

Pieminister: wild shroom, heidi, shamrock, pietanic...
posted by glasseyes at 2:00 PM on April 3, 2013


I think they're pies in the way that tomatoes are fruits.
posted by cozy at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2013


glasseyes: Quiche is flan. Why is no one looking up the etymology of flan?

As it happens, the Larousse Gastronomique's definition of tart explicitly mentions flan in its definition of "tart" in the part I ellipses-ed over above:
The words 'tart' (tarte) and 'flan' are often used interchangeably in Britain and France to designate a pastry filled with fruit, jam, custard or some other filling.
Not being from Britain or France, I'm not sure how interchangeable this term really is. In the parts of the US and Canada that I've experienced, it seems that the term "flan" is used primarily for a specific dish (which lacks a pastry crust) rather than as a class of foods.

As for "flan" itself, here's what the Larousse has to say:
An open tart filled with fruit, a cream or a savoury mixture. [...]

The word flan is also used in France and Spain for an egg custard, often caramel-falvoured, that is made in a mould, turned out and served cold.
I think that the latter definition is how it seems to be mainly used in North America, possibly owing to the influence (and primacy?) of the Mexican version of flan.

Anyways, I want to note that I'm not taking the Larousse as if it were the singular, authoritative source. It certainly has its blind spots (no entry for gianduja, really?) and probably shouldn't be relied on blindly for non-French cuisine. It just happens to be a common culinary reference book that is easily searchable on Amazon "Look Inside the Book".
posted by mhum at 2:36 PM on April 3, 2013


Pies have pastry on the top.

Perhaps where you are, but it's not a universal definition, as this thread demonstrates.

Flan
a : an open pie containing any of various sweet or savory fillings
b : custard baked with a caramel glaze


flan (n.)
"open tart," 1846, from French flan "custard tart, cheesecake," from Old French flaon (12c.), from Medieval Latin flado, probably a Germanic borrowing (cf. Frankish *flado, Old High German flado "offering cake," Middle High German vlade "a broad, thin cake," Dutch vla "baked custard"), from Proto-Germanic *flatho(n), akin to words for "flat" and probably from PIE root *plat- "to spread" (see place). Borrowed earlier as flawn (c.1300), from Old French.
posted by rtha at 2:37 PM on April 3, 2013


pie, noun
Definition of PIE
1: a meat dish baked with biscuit or pastry crust — compare potpie
2: a dessert consisting of a filling (as of fruit or custard) in a pastry shell or topped with pastry or both


Is egg considered a meat?!
posted by AppleTurnover at 5:06 PM on April 3, 2013


Where is that definition from? There are several different definitions floating around that would contradict that.

I'm with the Empress, by which I mean that quiche is a pie but the reasons its a pie will be different depending on the irrational objection to this obvious fact.
posted by OmieWise at 5:35 PM on April 3, 2013


AppleTurnover (eponysterical, btw!), as you can see from your definition and from mine, not to mention the discussion in this thread, there is no One True definition of what a pie is. It appears to be highly dependent on where one lives, among other things. No prescriptivist will win this fight. Your username, for example, is - according to some definitions of pie - a kind of pie. But I bet there would be confusion for many if, upon ordering pie, the waiter presented a turnover.
posted by rtha at 6:04 PM on April 3, 2013


If we're doing dictionaries, the OED gives:

1. A baked pastry dish; something regarded as resembling this.

...which is nice and general, and definitely includes egg pies quiches.
posted by pompomtom at 9:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The origins of the word "pie" are obscure: the OED says
[Occurs (in Latin context) in 1303; evidently a well-known popular word in 1362. No related word known outside Eng.
and surmises that it may come from the same word meaning a magpie. I think this is correct, and it tells us something about the original pies.

Magpies are known for their parti-colored coats of black and white, which gave us the adjective "pied" (as in "Pied Piper") for something patched with different colors. The word "pasty" (later "pastry") is at least as old as the word "pie"; why did they have two terms for the same thing? I suspect a pie was distinct from a pasty: a pasty was a filling contained by a crust of paste, hence the name. A pie was similar, but with a pierced or woven top through which you could see the filling inside - that is, it had a pied appearance. This implies that a quiche may be a pasty/pastry or perhaps a tart, but unless it is partially covered with pastry it is not a pie.

Incidentally, the most likely explanation of the word "tart" is that it comes from a Latin word for a flat loaf of bread. The same word gave us "torte", an expensive word for a cake. I suppose this meant that tarts were discs of paste or pastry covered with jam or sweetened fruit or whatever. This implies the existence of a pastry hierarchy: a pasty (e.g., Cornish pasty) is totally enclosed in what we now call pastry; a pie has a pierced or woven top; and a tart has a pastry base with no pastry on top. The open question as to whether a pie needs to have pastry on the bottom must be left for another day.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:04 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meringue pies contain egg, and are pies. Eggs, therefore, in no way disqualify pies. You wouldn't say that a lemon meringue pie was not really a pie, right?

Boston cream pie, on the other hand, is clearly a fucking cake.
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:57 AM on April 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am reading the last Bone book, and it provides evidence by way of referring to quiche as "custard pie with bacon and cheese." So, literature.
posted by looli at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2013


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