The Lemon Meringue Pie Dispute

As many of you may already know, ek is ‘n Engelsman.
The long-suffering Mrs 6000 is fully Suth Iffrikan.

From time to time, we come across little nuances and colloquialisms which set our home nations apart from one another:

England are great at cricket and have never lost a series to Bangladesh.
South Africans can cook things over coals.
England are world champions at Health and Safety.
South Africa are top 10 worldwide for traffic-related deaths per 100,000 people.
The English call them traffic lights, South Africans call them robots.
When the English say “now”, they mean immediately. That only happens in SA if you repeat it.

Stuff that every SA blogger has written a hilarious blog post about. Stuff like that. And vive la différence!
Well, vive it until yesterday, when Mrs 6000’s Mum turned up to our Transition Day braai with a lemon meringue pie. Yeah – I went there – a lemon meringue pie.

See, I was told by all the senior South Africans present yesterday that the official South African name for this delicious* dessert is simply “Lemon Meringue”; that there’s no “Pie” involved in the nomenclature at all. And a quick look at the label and the shop receipt seemed to back them up, being, as they were, wholly pie-free.

What balderdash.

How can this be? How can one simply choose to overlook one third of the tri-partite alliance that makes up this dish?
No. And it’s the all important bottom bit too, without which any attempt at serving would surely end up in a trendy “deconstruction” of the original recipe. Structural integrity is as important in desserts as in any other course and in the case of the Lemon Meringue Pie, that strength comes down solely to the pastry bit. The bit that makes it a pie and not a sloppy mess all over the bottom of an ovenproof dish.

Even putting that aside though, you can’t just drop a bit of something’s name just because it suits you. We’re always encouraged to eat more fruit and be more healthy, told that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. But what if whoever came up with that little ditty had decided to arbitrarily leave out a bit of the name of the foodstuff involved? What if it was meant to be  “An apple crumble a day keeps the doctor away” or “An apple schnapps a day keeps the doctor away” and all this time, we’ve been missing out on a tastier or more fun way to avoid medical intervention simply because someone chose to drop a word?

I did a quick straw poll around my SA collegaues in the lab and there was incredulity that I was asking such stupid questions even suggesting that name should include the word “Pie”.

But then I googled lemon meringue (on the .CO.ZA version of that site, and without the all important P-word) and it seems that not all Saffas think the same way (who knew?), because look what I found:


Yeah! Look at what the big names in SA food like Ian Paarman, Woolies and PicknPie are calling it!
Look what is calling it! THEY SAY PIE!

Long live Lemon Meringue PIE! Amandla!


* for the record, the Checkers version isn't actually that nice.

2 thoughts on “The Lemon Meringue Pie Dispute

  1. Without wishing to add to the controversy, my dear old mum called it just “Lemon Meringue”…..and she was born and bred in Yorkshire (well Hull, if that counts…)

  2. Gordon > Well, you just added to it, didn’t you? Although people from Hull have always been a bit “East Riding” (if you know what I mean…).

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