Tonight at my local pub (the very excellent Royal Oak, well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area), I had a Steak and Ale pie, and very tasty it was too. It was that sort of pie that is no kind of pie at all; the earthernware bowl (filled with juicy steak, mushrooms and a delicious gravy) was topped with a crisp butter pastry sheet.
The more I think on it (and I do think on it, believe you me!), it was more of a - oh, let's call it a lidded soup.
Now, I have nothing against this kind of construction, and am rather fond of them in the right context (which is: on a plate in front of me). But I've developed a lingering suspicion that they're not really pies in the truest sense, where I would expect pastry to form the entire enclosure - the whole house - floor, walls and roof - rather than solely the roof.
It seems to me that in the case of the lidded soup, the pottery is doing the lion's share of the work, but the pastry is somehow getting all the credit (when I originally typed that, it came out as creut. Coincidence or conspiracy?).
I was pondering this injustice, when I realised that it's not so much a soup with a lid, as the precise opposite of quiche.
A quiche, as everyone knows, is a kind of pastry trough - the pastry forms the base and sides of the dish. Essentially, it's a tart, a lidless pie - an open pie, if you will. This is an important thing to realise, as many people will tell you that Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. But call it an open pie and it's a whole different matter.
Once I'd realised that where quiches use pastry to contain the filling, lidded soups use pastry to conceal it, I realised that they're no kind of pie at all. They're anti-quiches.
Still very tasty, though.