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In the cradles of civilization (Mediterranean region including Ancient Rome, Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Arabia) the primary fat was olive oil.When combined with ground grains, it produced a rudimentary type of pastry.The first pies were very simple and generally of the savory (meat and cheese) kind.
But those were flat affairs, since olive oil was used as the fat in the pastry and will not produce upstanding pies; pastry made with olive oil is 'weak' and readily slumps." ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson, 2nd edition, Tom Jaine editor [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 2006 (p.Modern pie, as we Americans know it today, descends from Medieval European ingredients (fat=suet, lard, butter) and technology (pie plates, freestanding pies, tiny tarts)."The idea of enclosing meat inside a sort of pastry made from flour and oil originated in ancient Rome, but it was the northern European use of lard and butter to make a pastry shell that could be rolled out and moulded that led to the advent of true pie." ---An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 2002 (p.The figs were retired from the sauce pan long before the meat was done and they were served around the ham as a garnish.] Compare with this Latin text, English translation and modern instructions: "Pernam, ubi eam cum caricis plurimis elixa veris et tribus lauri foliis, detracta cute tessellatim indicis et melle complebis.Deinde farinam oleo subactam contexes et ei corium reddis et cum farina cocta fuerit, eximas furno ut est et inferes." Boil the ham with a large number of dried figs and 3 bay leaves. Preheat the oven to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6, and bake for 30 minutes until the crust is golden. 268) "Pastry dough: Roman pastry dough was made with lard or olive oil rather than butter. Spelt flour needs rather less fat than wheat flour.