In search of an Aussie meat pie in Greece

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By Kathy Karageorgiou.

Australian pies are still a big deal to me, even after living in Greece for over 20 years. More so than fish ‘n’ chips in fact. I crave pies, I fantasise about them.  They are the stuff of my childhood, of my connection to independence. Yes, independence! Leaving my mother’s cooking apron strings and experiencing Aussie tastes; a new world opening up to me. 

I’m talking about meat pies, of course. I know Australia’s gone fusion and trendy and there are all sorts of pies out there, but me, I’m a diehard meat pie girl.

Pie vs fish ‘n’ chips?  Pies win for me!

When I was a preschooler in the 1970s in Australia, my mum would take me to a local home-made cake and pie shop for a ‘different’ sweet treat like a lamington or jelly slice. I though, would always choose a meat pie.  

Then came bliss at the school canteens with their availability of pies. Those jokes of rats and buttons in these mass produced rather than home-made pies did not ruffle me one bit. I can say these malicious rumours suited me, as unlike my sandwiches, no one wanted to share my pies!

Since living in Greece and being a Greek, I have gone native with Greece’s ‘fast food’ – souvlaki, which I adore. Who doesn’t?! But I’ve always felt the nagging and clawing sensation that: “It’s high time for a pie.” This has gone on for years. 

I’ve searched far and wide for a pie here, mainly in Athens, Greece, that is at least similar to the Aussie meat pie that I grew up with. I may have just found it – well, the closest thing to it – in my perhaps time and reality-altered Greek residency.

To be fair, there are a few English pub style restaurants here that offer pies on their menus, and stores selling British foods – but I’m talking about take-away pies. Pies that don’t cost a fortune and that you can eat on the walk or run wherever and however you want. Pie freedom that comes with being able to sit on a bench somewhere or take it home (when no other family member threatens to want some) and make all sorts of sounds and facial expressions when getting stuck into it. Plus, you can add sauce in the measure and style you want – if you want, or ‘ketchup’ as it’s called here in Greece.

I never miss a chance to extol the virtues of the Australian pie to anyone who’ll listen here in Greece. Greeks respond, “aah, you’re talking about pita,” while American expats smile with their usually dazzling white teeth, making comments like, “yeah, I do love an apple or pumpkin pie.” Then there’s those from the UK, who talk to me about pork pies and Christmas mince pies. Oh, it’s exhausting! They just don’t understand like we Aussies do.

So even though I have tried various ‘kreatopites’ (meat pites) or kimadopites (mincemeat pites) here in Greece, they just don’t do it like an Aussie pie. Delicious they are, but not the same – especially the crust.

So, as I was out one day recently close to central Athens, earning a crust actually, I felt hunger pangs coming on and stopped at an unusually named shop “Imerouli” noticing they had pites on display but with a thicker crust. My pie mania overtook me in full force! I began my obsessive spiel about Aussie pies, followed by the employees amused looks, before choosing their minced meat pie or ‘kimadopita,’ at a very good price I might add.

I bit into this pie and was transported back to my Aussie pie heaven, well, the closest to that in Greece. The crust was thick, the meat tasty and moist, the smell, texture and taste, well delectable; Aussie pie-like.  

The store is owned by a Georgian family, migrants from after the fall of the USSR, who came to Greece in 2006, going through all the trials of migrant life, similar to those of our Greek parents in Australia. The team bake on the premises daily, in front of the customers very eyes, using fresh ingredients in their many pie variations based on recipes back home in Georgia with some adapted to Greek tastes.

Discussing this amazing find with friends and others, and implying it as my secret ‘find,’ I was and wasn’t surprised that some knew of it! And they were Greeks, whose passion there was the shop’s Georgian tyropita, the Imerouli Khatchapouri.  

One friend in particular works at the Athens Archaeological Museum, a ten-minute walk away, and she told me all her colleagues love this ‘Imerouli’ take-away pita/pie shop, open since 2011. Its name, by the way, comes from the owner Hadoula’s home village in Georgia’s Caucasus region.

So I feel my pie seeking mission in Athens, Greece has been at last successfully accomplished, although… maybe not. It has been extremely sated though, to say the least. Thank you incredible Imerouli pie makers!

Imerouli is at 73 Tritis Septemvriou Street, Athens, Greece. Open every day from 7am (Sundays at 9am) until 8pm.  They also deliver. Type online search Imerouli, for more details.

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