Ham and Pea Pie Floater with Mash Potato… I have gone through, well you don’t need numbers, let’s just say a lifetime without ever having a pie floater. It never really appealed to me, but for some unknown reason the pie floater has been playing on my mind for the past week. The craving for ham and pea soup along with the desire to have a pie and all of a sudden the pie floater made perfect sense!
Looking into the history of this dish I discovered that it is uniquely Australian. Although it’s now labeled a South Australian Heritage Icon by the National Trust of Australia it became popular through Sydney’s Harry’s Cafe De Wheels (which is a must for visiting travellers) Harry’s is a food truck situated at the old graving docks down at Wooloomooloo, which are now the Australian Naval Dockyards.
Back in the Great Depression between 1929-1932 (although it did start a little earlier here in Australia) unemployed workers could go to the local soup kitchens who would serve them the soup of the day (this could be potato, pea or even strawberry soup) with the leftover pie scraps donated from the pie manufacturers in the area. They were able to get a cheap, if not free, nutritious and warming meal for themselves and their family to help sustain them till their next meal, which may not have been for days at a time.
Just looking into the history of this one particular dish you really get to see the extraordinary hardship people/families, for four decades, worldwide went through. It was one event after the other… it’s truly unimaginable. They would only just recover from one event then another one happens to slap you in the face.
WWI : 1914-1918
The Great Depression : 1929-1932
WWII : 1939-1945
It’s really is no wonder that the ‘plastic fantastic’ era of the fifties was embraced – they were given the convenience of gadgets and an easy ‘disposable’ lifestyle, and after all they had been through it’s no surprised that easy living gained such momentum.