London Foodie A-Z: E = Egypt
Catching up after doing my alphabet a little out of order, so started looking for Egyptian restaurants to try – found loads across London with typical names such as Alexandria, but Flying Pie caught my eye.
Located in between Covent Garden and Leicester Square, I popped in for a quick lunch and what a treat I discovered. I know the name doesn’t sound very Egyptian, and they only serve one type of food, pie, but it was definitely not one to miss. Now these are not pies in the British sense and the best way I can describe them is a cross between a pie and a pizza (although apparently pizza was invented a long time after these).
These pies are feteers, which roughly translates as ‘cushion pies’, and they are flaky layers of pastry stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling.
A symbol of hospitality in Egypt, and often offered to guests, feteers originated in ancient Egypt and were also often left at temples as gifts to the gods.
According to Flying Pie’s menu, which helpfully gives on overview of the history on the reverse, the recipe to make feteers travelled to ancient Greece, where the Greeks made their own version of these pastries. They then travelled to the Romans who apparently gave the recipe to the Persians and somehow it found its way to France, as it’s said to be the forerunner to the croissant, with the Italian pizza being a much more modern creation.
At Flying Pie you can have a vegetarian pie, minced beef pie, salmon pie or, as I did, a grilled chicken pie, as recommended by the delightful waitress who said it was their best seller.
Whilst waiting for my pie to arrive, I scanned the lovely little restaurant. Situated on the corner of New Row and Bedfrodbury (just around the corner from Leicester Square tube station), the light floods in through the windows into this airy restaurant. It’s only small with only 11 tables (mostly seating two, but one large enough to take a group of six), with model bi-planes and hot air balloons hanging from the ceiling and propeller blades adorning the walls.
The waitress continues the theme by being dressed in a flying suit with an airman’s cap on her head.
One of the best things about this tiny restaurant is that it has an open kitchen – so you can watch the cook make the pies / feteers, and that’s a spectacle in itself, especially as the lovely cook was quite happy to let me take pics while she made a pie and answered all my questions about it. First the pastry dough is rolled out onto the counter until it’s so thin you can almost see through it, it’s then trimmed into a long rectangular shape and cheese (cheddar according to the cook) is scattered in the centre, along with the chosen filling and a little more cheese on top. Then the ends are folded over to create a square, it’s placed in a square baking tray and popped into a ‘pizza-style’ oven for about 5-10 mins, before being placed on a wooden serving board and cut into squares – check out the photos below to see the whole process.
My grilled chicken pie arrived steaming and, when I bit into it, oozing with the cheesy filling. The pastry layers are crispy, so it’s not as doughy as even a thin crust pizza, and at £9.50 it was a tasty, filling, good value meal. To be honest, you could have one between two, which is what the couple at the next table did – the staff don’t mind and even brought them a spare plate. And if you can’t finish, they’ll offer to box the leftovers up for you to take away!
It’s probably not good for your waistline, and I certainly didn’t have room for a dessert pie afterwards (powdered sugar, honey and cream, Nutella or Nutella and banana) – good excuse for a return visit though!
This is a quick and tasty lunch venue, where you can also order takeaway, and, having discovered this tasty dish, well, you can keep your pizza – it’s feteers or Egyptian pies for me.
#lifeofaguide #LondonFoodieAZ #Egypt #FlyingPie #Feteer #EgyptianPie #notpizza
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