legendary Adelaide “pie floater” – hot meat pie with tomato sauce
in a bowl of hot green pea soup!
first time diners swear by these local delights; others swear at them!
24th October 2014
Floater - aka Pie Floater:
Description: The pie floater is an Australian dish particularly common in Adelaide and, to a lesser degree, Sydney. It commonly consists of a traditional Australian-style meat pie, usually sitting, but sometimes submerged (sometimes upside down) in a bowl of thick green pea soup. It is usually garnished with tomato sauce, and the consumer may also add mint sauce, salt, pepper
and /or malt vinegar to personal preference. The pie floater is usually purchased in the street from pie-carts as a late evening meal.
South Australian National Trust has traced the history of the pie floater:
an impressive history tracing back 130+ years.
Early records in South Australia state that the pie floater was reputedly
born in Port Pirie, South Australia, conceived by one Ern "Shorty"
Bradley in 1890's - but, no one really knows how. Did he
inadvertently drop a pie into a bowl of soup? Or maybe what a lot of
people are stating today, it could have been because the bottom of the pie
is softer and easier to tuck in with a spoon and it maybe because it stops
the pie from slipping around the plate. Or though pea soup
with meat has long been part of English culinary history, with honourable
mentions in the 19th Century, including Yorkshire "pea and pie
supper", "pea soup with eel", "suet dumplings or
saveloys", (Dumplings in soup were known as "Floaters").
Maybe, it developed from those dishes, which are useful when you have a
lot of people to feed on a budget: for example at a cricket match, or at
harvest time or even at the footy.
pie floater is a meal available in Australia, which consists of the
traditional meat pie sitting, unusually inverted (upside-down), in a plate of thick
green pea soup. It is traditionally served and covered with tomato
sauce and, although subject to the taste of the individual consumer, mint
sauce and salt and pepper are the also traditionally added to complement
the dish. Another popular condiment is vinegar and / or even
The addition of the pea soup provides extra flavour and dietary fibre, and
extends what otherwise may be considered a snack to a full meal.
High profile fans of the pie floater are: Anthony Bourdain, Joe
Cocker, Billy Connolly, Nigel Mansell, Shane Warne, Angus Young and Hugh
Jackman. Also, Adelaide's high
profile fans are: Bob Francis, Peter Goes (I hope to add more names
2003, the pie floater was recognised as a South Australian Heritage Icon
by the National Trust of Australia.
While the dish has appeared in other Australian locations – 1950's
Brisbane and in the 1930's notably in
well known version of the pie floater in Sydney is sold from
Harry's Cafe de Wheels situated in Woolloomooloo,
New South Wales,
with a similarly recognisable neon sign. Harry's Cafe de Wheels is listed on the National Trust Register as an historic icon. Originally set near the graving docks (now Australian Naval Dockyards known as 'Garden Island Naval Base' Woolloomooloo), east of the Sydney Opera House, the current Cafe de Wheels has been permanently fixed on a masonry base for some years. Other Harry's Cafe de Wheels operate in the Sydney city and metropolitan area, and in the city of Newcastle, New South Wales.Sydney at Harry's Cafe de Wheels – it has made
its biggest mark in South Australia.
Pie floaters are typically purchased in the street from pie-carts, as a late evening meal. Pie-carts are typically a form of
caravan / trailer / cart, (originally horse-drawn or food vending
trolleys), with an elongated "window" along one or both sides where customers stand to eat their purchases.
have been advised by an expert on pie floaters they were always referred
to as "Floaters" not pie floaters as we call them today!
24th October 2014