The Pie Floater

Via Tim Blair, I read an interview with PJ O’Rourke over at the Onion. Like many people, I’m an O’Rourke fan, although I was disappointed with “CEO of the Sofa”. But on the whole, he is one of my favourite reads.
Reading the interview reminded me of perhaps my favourite yarn, “So Drunk”, his semi-fictional tale of a bender that was published in “Age and Guile…” Like O’Rourke, I like to drink, and I don’t make any apologies for this.
Being drunk may, or may not be cool. That is irrelevant. Cool is not a concept that the serious drunk cares much for. However, one of the things about being drunk is that you eat things when you are drunk that normally you wouldn’t possibly consider eating when you are sober.
Take that Adelaide institution, the pie floater


The City of Adelaide, where I reside, is a city with it’s own favourite quirks and traditions. One of the most original is the pie floater.
The local industrial bakery chain has two vans specially designed to produce this culinary masterpiece, which is on a par with vegemite in my opinion, strategically located to provide pie floaters to people like me.
One is just outside the railway station/casino complex, and the other is by the General Post Office. About 8 pm every evening, these vans park at these locations to serve pie floaters (and it must be said, more normal bakery cuisine) to the drunks, waifs, strays and vagabonds of the city.
The pie floater is a stock standard meat pie, served in thick pea soup. The entire pie ‘floats’ in the soup. To this, you add your choice of condiment (my suggestion is tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and vinegar.) You eat it in a bowl on the temporary bench with your fellow drunk/waif/rabble and enjoy the curious brotherhood that is enjoyed between men who are doing something ridiculous.
The pie floater is an Adelaide Institution, but for reasons that elude my befuddled grasp, it hasn’t taken off (I personally think that a pie floater beats McDonald’s any day.)
Surely, other cities around the world have a similar food that is native to them and is frequently consumed by the town’s drunks. What food is your city’s speciality?

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16 comments

  1. David Crawford

    MY GOD!!!!!! That is some repugnant looking shit. Of course the one and only rule about late-night drunken food is that, the more disgusting it looks, the better it tastes. Ergo, that must be the caviar of drunken, 2:00 am food.

  2. Bill

    The first time I heard of pie floaters was in Terry Prachetts Discworld novel “The Last Continent.” It sounded pretty vile, but I was not prepared for a picture of said floater. It would test the gag reflex of the most hardened plumber.
    AAAAACCk!!!!

  3. Robert Modean

    Bah! Ya buncha girly-men. I live no where near Adelaide (I’m up here in the states) and I’ve never even heard of a Pie Floater before but I can tell you this, I’d have no problem eatin’ two of them with enough Newcastle to wash them down.
    Now up hear in St. Louis the ultimate drunk food is the Slinger. A Slinger is the most wonderful concotion of two cheeseburgers (open faced) with hash browns piled on top, two eggs (sunny side up) on top of that and the whole thing smothered in Chili (no beans) and topped with chopped onions and cheese. You can get it served la mode with sour cream on top too. Damn I’m getting hungry.
    After a good game of Nancy-man there’s nothing like washing it all down with a Slinger at the Courtesy Diner – they make the best ones IMO. They also serve Chili waffles if you ask them nice! Ah, drunk food – there’s nothing like it…

  4. Sub

    I spent 3 months living in Adelaide and was introduced to the ‘pie floater with sauce’ at the very same van. I found this article looking for a recipe for the pea concoction to make my own here in Toronto.
    The pain in the tummy the next morning is well worth the pleasure the night before.

  5. Tim

    I don’t know where the picture of the pie floater came from, but it’s not authentic. The pie should be upside down in the soup, and the the plate beneath the soup plate is pure fantasy.The bench is wiped every now and then by the van proprietor himself, so there is no need for such pretentious touches.
    I’m in Adelaide, it’s midnight, and I feel the need for a tasty pie floater right now…

  6. Bill Vititow

    I ate my first Pie Floater back in 1984 when I was an AFS high school exchange student to Adelaide. I loved your city, and I loved the Pie Floater. One day I will return to my home- away-from-home (your fair city) with my family in tow. We will belly up to the pie cart, and while my family cries out, “How gross!” I will be savoring every bit of my “Curry Pie Floater,” assuming that Curry is still a choice on the menu.

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  8. Frankie Bull

    I am having trouble coming to terms with the fact that the pie floater is supposedly an Australian “invention”. My gut instinct tells me it is British, originating in the London area and then permeating the North of England, from whence I came.
    Without wishing to be unpatriotic (I am now a proud Australian Citizen of many years standing) can someone out there please put a date on when the pie floater was supposed to have been “invented” in Adelaide.
    I know my mother-in-law spoke of them being around when she was a ‘kid’- pre WW1 – and my grandparents (U.K) used to have them too.
    Any assistance would be appreciated.
    Cheers!

  9. norm

    i love them ,ive eaten the buggers for 30 years, i make them at home ,,just mash a can of peas,chuck in hot pie, smother with sauce,enjoy

  10. Tim

    Does anyone know anywhere else in either the Adelaide CBD or North Adelaide where one can find Pie Floters? I am aware of a snack bar on Wyatt St (Nosh by name) that does them too.

  11. Tim

    Does anyone know anywhere else in either the Adelaide CBD or North Adelaide where one can find Pie Floters? I am aware of a snack bar on Wyatt St (Nosh by name) that does them too. Please reply to my email address.

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