I'd heard "mincemeat" used as an expression, as in, "I'll make mincemeat out of you!" as a threat. I've also read about it in books, or heard it mentioned in movies, especially older ones, set in the U.K. or Europe. But I'd never had a opportunity to try it until recently. The Shady Maple Farm Market in East Earl, Pennsylvania, came through. Also, my friend Gene nicely offered me the final piece in the 6 inch (about 15 cm.) diameter pie he'd bought.
I was also unsure about what mincemeat pie actually consisted of. Sure, "meat" is in the name, but I was under the impression that this was really a type of fruit pie, at least in modern times. It turns out that there are several varieties. The old, traditional mincemeat pie did in fact contain meat, in the form of beef or venison, which was then mixed with dried fruit, distilled spirits, and spices, all of which was then stuffed into a pie crust. Or kind of like a chicken pot pie, meat pie, or a shepherd's pie. Something eaten as the main course at dinner. However, these ingredients have changed over time. By the mid 20th century, with spices like nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon more readily available, mincemeat pie changed into more of a sweet, dessert-type of pie. Meat was sometimes eliminated entirely, or present only as suet (fat). And even more recently, some vegetarians make a version without even this suet. Presumably, somewhere there's even a vegan type which doesn't even use eggs or butter. Whatever its form, mincemeat pie continues to be fairly common in much of the world. It's found in Northern Europe, Ireland, the U.K., the U.S., South Africa, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
The mincemeat pie I tried was a bit old school. The filling did indeed contain beef, mixed in with apples, apple cider, red wine, rum, raisins, salt, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. The crust was regular wheat, eggs, milk, butter, various vegetable oils, and artificial flavors, etc. It was a little pricey, too, as the small pie cost $5.49. My slice looked like a regular yellowish crust containing a brown filling. It reminded me of pecan pie filling in appearance, minus the latter's visible nut pieces. I peered at it carefully, but couldn't identify any separate pieces of beef, or apple chunks. Apparently everything had been ground up very fine (or "minced," as the name also suggests). I quite enjoyed it. It was very dense, and sweet. Definitely like a dessert, and not like a savory pot pie. I couldn't detect much of a meat taste, but it was very rich, and different from a usual apple pie somehow. Maybe it was the booze! I was slightly disappointed that I couldn't pick out the beef flavor, but on the other hand, it was undeniably a tasty treat. I'll try to compare it to the fruit and just suet version, or even the all vegetarian ingredients one, when and if I get the chance. But I certainly strongly recommend the type of mincemeat pie I sampled, to anyone who likes fruit pies (which I'm guessing is a whole lot of people).