The classic Australian meat pie is a single serving, enclosed in pastry with a filling of meat in gravy, and typically eaten for lunch or as a snack food.

It is traditionally sold over the counter, hot and ready to eat, often with tomato sauce and in a paper bag. Meat pies have traditionally been served in pie shops and pie stalls at events such as football matches, agricultural shows and other places where people congregate.

In fact the meat pie has become Australia’s iconic fast food, in the company of Britain’s fish and chips, America’s hamburger, Mexico’s taco and Italy’s pizza.

There have been many changes over the years. Once baked fresh daily for distribution to local pie shops, these days most pies are sold frozen in supermarkets. But the meat pie has maintained its popularity and Australians eat an estimated 270 million meat pies a year.

New Zealanders share this tradition with Australians and in fact eat more meat pies on average than Australians (15 per year compared with Australians’ 12).

This display traces the history of the Australian meat pie from its origins in the ancient world, to its place in the supermarket freezers of today.

The display is part of our project on the history of the Australian meat pie. The story is also presented in a set of graphic panels that ASHET is currently lending for periods up to one month for display in libraries and other venues accessible to the public. The project was carried out by ASHET with the assistance of a grant from the Australian Government under its Your Community Heritage program.

Sydney and country libraries to display The meat pie: Australia’s own fast food

The display in nine panels describing the history of the Australian meat pie was launched on 26 February 2015 at History House by Associate Professor Carol Liston, President of the Royal Australian Historical Society.

The display is now on tour to local libraries in Sydney and country areas in NSW. During May 2015 it is on show at the Burwood Public Library, during June it will be at the Chatswood Public Library, July at the Penrith Public Library and September at Leichhardt Public Library.

Over thirty libraries in NSW have indicated their interest in showing the display, and each of them will receive it for around month to show in the library. A second set of the panels has now been ordered so that by the end of 2016 most of the libraries will have been able to put it on show.

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