Food from around the world: The Aussie pie floater

Today we bring you something totally different than our usual posts. Paula and Gordy of Contented Traveller share with us a story about Australian classic dish – the Aussi pie floater. Enjoy it!

Aussi Pie Floater - this looks delicious to me!
Aussi Pie Floater – this looks delicious to me!

There is nothing more iconic than the Aussie meat pie. We all love it and we all know a good pie immediately. Smothered with tomato sauce, not ketchup, this is comfort food down under.

One of the variations on the Aussie meat pie is the equally iconic pie floater. Say what? you say. Well the pie floater brings the Aussie meat pie to new levels of magnificence.

What exactly is an Aussie Pie Floater?

Well, it is your Aussie meat pie, sitting on mushy peas, topped with mashed potatoes and then smothered in gravy. Then it has to be doused in tomato sauce. Yes, I know that you are drooling and with very good reason, because for some reason or another – the Aussie pie floater is delicious.

Origins of the Aussie Pie Floater

It all started at Harry's Cafe de Wheels, in the suburb of Woolloomooloo, (spell and say that one), in the city of Sydney. Harry opened his little cart and sold his ‘pie and peas' to the workers in the docklands of Woolloomooloo in 1938. He then went off the Second World War and on his return re-opened this now legendary pie floater institution that still runs from the same spot, but has other sites all around.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels
Harry's Cafe de Wheels

Why are Australians obsessed with meat pies?

The Aussie meat pie is close to being called our national dish, along with Vegemite which FYI we love. If vegemite is made from brewers yeast it can’t be all that bad and an Aussie meat pie, with tomato sauce, should be eaten hot, with a cold beer in hand. I can see a link there between the two. That’s just the way it is. The Aussie pie floater is the one variation to the meat pie that we also accept.

How we embrace a culinary institution

The Aussie meat pie no doubt comes from our English and Irish convicts when they decided to settle here, probably against their will. As our palates have matured and multiculturalism has stepped in, there have been innumerable variations to the pies.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels at night
Harry's Cafe de Wheels at night

However, most Aussies stay true to the one and only meat pie, with the exception of the pie floater. That is a totally acceptable variation. This is so quintessentially Australian that it has seen many a pop star, rock legend or drunken politician turn to a pie floater late at night. It appears that anyone who comes to our shores ends up at Harry’s Café de Wheels. Elton John is a fan; Frank Sinatra was a customer as was Colonel Harland Sanders … go figure.

Harry's Cafe de Wheels, claims that it is a place “where social classes intersected”. My take is that people have generally drunk enough not to care who anyone is, and that everyone is their best mate.

Eating an Aussie Pie Floater

An Aussie pie floater is a bitch to eat yet one of the most delicious pies you will ever taste, even when you are sober. Looking out over the Sydney Harbour makes it that much more special with all of your mates around… whether you know them or not.  It is comfort food for us. It is synonymous with sport, with beer, with camaraderie, and well … with being Australian.

While many visitors to our shores shun our beloved Vegemite, most feel that the iconic pie floaters aren’t too bad …mate.

Thanks to Paula and Gordy for sharing with us a story about an Aussie Pie Floater. We can't wait to taste it for ourselves. We hope you enjoyed reading about it. Don't forget to check the Contented Traveller website, and to connect with Paula and Gordy through social media. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Linkedin. At Contented Traveller, Paula and Gordy like to market destinations and experiences. They like houseboats, tatami mats, cave houses, overwater bungalows, and traveling their way. They are a couple who believe that travel is all about serendipity.

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6 thoughts on “Food from around the world: The Aussie pie floater”

  1. Sorry, but the pie floater (pie in pea soup) originated in Port Pirie, South Australia at the establishment of one Ern ‘Shorty’ Bradley. Harry’s version … with mashed potato … is properly called a ‘Tiger’. Also check out the ‘Famous Montville Pie’ from Queensland, which isn’t a million miles away.

  2. Ohhhh….*moans*….I haven’t had one of those in ages! There’s not much I miss from home while we are in South East Asia (I have a supply of Vegemite we carry with us) but gee I’d kill for one of those pies right now. Top of my list for our visit in November!

    • Oh, I am sure you can replace meat with lentil. We don’t eat much meat ourselves, and one of our favorite winter dishes is a meatless Shepard’s pie. We make it with lentils and it’s delicious. Thanks for your comment, Franca!

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