Confusing a shepherd’s pie and a chicken pot pie in Canada?
September 11, 2022 4:14 AM   Subscribe

I was reading this article and I as an Aussie agreed with alot of it but this statement jumped out at me "(Have you ever confused a shepherd’s pie and a chicken pot pie in front of a white person? You should. It turns into a whole thing.)" How can you confuse them?

We don't exactly have chicken pot pies here (name wise) but I would assume its a chicken pie filling with a pastry top and no pastry on the bottom (which we do have). A shepherd's pie is a mince based filling with mashed potato on top. Why do white Canadians need this explained? What am I missing?
posted by Lesium to Society & Culture (16 answers total)
Immediately before that, the author says she enjoys upsetting white people. She’s not saying that white Canadians are the ones who need this explained, she’s saying that confusing the two is a good way to troll them, as they’ll be amazed and dismayed and make a big to-do about how someone else can not be familiar with these dishes.
posted by tchemgrrl at 4:24 AM on September 11, 2022 [16 favorites]

It’s also that white Canadians are perfectly comfortable confusing things like…Pakistan and India or Sikhs and Muslims and Hindus (never mind various dishes from various traditions) but lose their shit about pot pies vs. shepherd pies vs. cottage pies. It’s about believing children in the commonwealth should be able to recite the lineage of Elizabeth II while not being able to locate most African countries on a map. Colonial knowledge - pot pies - is assumed. Pot pies are normative. By trolling that discussion she’s flipping the script. It’s pointing out not only are non-white ppl at the table, the table was stolen.

Signed, white Canadian who used to work for the pot pie recipe producing magazine in Canada.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:40 AM on September 11, 2022 [38 favorites]

(Additionally, as a white person who didn’t grow up eating shepherds pie, the two dishes really ARE quite similar conceptually in the big scheme of things, and I sometimes confuse them.)
posted by mekily at 6:33 AM on September 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

I think this ask is "It turns into a whole thing" as warriorqueen explains.
posted by k3ninho at 6:33 AM on September 11, 2022 [8 favorites]

I’m a POC. As a teenager, I once had a white teacher say I was “just like” a celebrity who has the same skin colour as me but who is from a different continent, and who is of a completely different race, language group, and religion. To flip the script on him, I asked him where in England his relatives came from (knowing fully well that he was Scottish since he went on about his kilt at every occasion). He turned red as borscht and started spluttering that he was Scottish as potatoes (ok, what he actually said was porridge… did anyone splutter that I just equated borscht and potatoes with Scotland?). Anyway even as a teenager I picked up on this dynamic, how everything European and especially British was revered and the rest of the world was “miscellaneous”.

Another British teacher once had the class collect newspaper clippings about world events. A few different stories about the royal family were in the mix and the teacher fussily separated clippings about Charles into a separate pile from clippings about his brother Andrew. Two men with the same parents were seen as discrete categories. But the teacher then made ONE pile that contained stories about Nelson Mandela, Ella FitzGerald, Eddie Murphy, and the Jamaican Olympic track team. Every single detail about Europe was a delicate individualized snowflake to this teacher, but anyone with Black skin, be they South African freedom fighter or deceased female singer or contemporary US comedian or team of Caribbean male athletes, were all the same.

These were two white men, not the same person, and these instances happened about a decade apart at two different schools, one of which was a university!

So yes, after a lifetime of being minimized and othered and mistook and mis-pronounced and dismissed and demeaned… what a delight to watch them freak out about a savoury pastry not being canon to every person alive.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:03 AM on September 11, 2022 [68 favorites]

I take this to be a riff on people getting upset when others mix up between cottage pie and shepherd's pie, which are legitimately quite similar and frequently mixed up (here in Canada, shepherd's pie is the usual name used for cottage pie).

Changing it to chicken pot pie and shepherd's pie is just exaggerating for comic effect and to make a point, which is very much the author's style.
posted by ssg at 8:23 AM on September 11, 2022

I’m guessing this is a more regional definition of pies where the author lives- I’m American and moved to the UK 15 years ago and I have never been offered a chicken pot pie in the UK or Shepard’s or cottage pie in America… in the UK and Ireland the difference between Shepard’s and cottage is lamb and beef and I (as a white person) wouldn’t have understood the author’s question and it wouldn’t have been a hot debate for me as a defender (which I’m not) of pies, casseroles, hot pots, or whatever… So I’m thinking it’s more about her area.
posted by flink at 9:51 AM on September 11, 2022

When my estrogen abandoned me at menopause, my ability to pluck words from my brain got muddled, and I can easily imagine saying chicken pot pie instead of shepherd's pie.
posted by theora55 at 10:07 AM on September 11, 2022

Seconding the comedy effect thing: these are all bland, colourless, stodgy, interchangeable white Canadian-people food.

(see the classic Goodness Gracious Me sketch “Going for an English” for similar effect)
posted by scruss at 1:46 PM on September 11, 2022 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Ok I get the joke now. If it had been anything other then pies I might have got it but a lot of us Aussie's take our pies very seriously down here :-)
posted by Lesium at 7:02 PM on September 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Colonial knowledge - pot pies - is assumed. Pot pies are normative.
I guess context is important. The term "pot pie" is a North American thing. Someone from other parts of the commonwealth is going to be baffled by this term.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In the UK any right-thinking person presented with a bowl topped with pastry would not call it a "pie", because it is merely a stew with a hat. They are sadly increasingly common in pubs and restaurants, to the detriment of real pies.

Obviously, shepherds and cottage pies are exceptions to this rule that everyone else in the world is expected to understand.
posted by fabius at 4:20 AM on September 12, 2022

I guess context is important. The term "pot pie" is a North American thing. Someone from other parts of the commonwealth is going to be baffled by this term.

I really wonder if people read the article or know who the author is.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:21 AM on September 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

(I do believe that this whole thread thing vindicates the author saying that it "... turns into a whole thing")
posted by scruss at 11:47 AM on September 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I really wonder if people read the article or know who the author is.

Read he article, don't disagree in the slightest, have never heard of the author.
I just found referring to North American terminology as "Colonial knowledge" hilarious.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 5:22 PM on September 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok, I get its a thing for you North American folks but its doesn't work as well down here as a joke, hence the question. An example that would give them same joke here would be explain the difference between a pie and a sausage roll ..... Pretty much the same but one is wetter and the other isn't enclosed. We don't even really have "pot pies" so that's why I was confused.
posted by Lesium at 3:24 AM on September 14, 2022

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