If you fill up on petrol at Z service stations across New Zealand, you’ll now find three vegan pie options. I sensed the need for a vegan pie-off.
The first pie option was the winner of a ‘share your pie recipe with us’ competition. Here, contestants did the hard work of diversifying Z’s pie range by donating their own recipes for the company to commercialise. The winning pie was a vegan Mexican bean recipe, which received the most votes due to, as Z phrased it, a “highly organised vegan community”. So organised in fact, that of the pies voted into the top 20 of the competition, 19 were vegan, which suggests a serious vegan campaign on the voting system. As far as a food culture win goes, getting a pie in a service station is not bad going. This same mobilisation resulted in a successful petition to make the winning pie a permanent addition to the Z pie warmer. We might not be fighting the broader issue of fossil fuel consumption here, but at least you can now eat a vegan pie in your SUV.
So, having realising that vegans drive cars too, Z has recently added a korma vegetable pie to their range (although there is some suggestion it’s ‘broadly’ vegan, rather than strictly vegan)
Apparently there is also the recently added chana masala vegan pie, but they weren’t stocked when I visited.
So, which was better? The vegan Mexican pie was a great hit when it launched, selling out across the country. I have to say national hype and humble pies are not a great mix and I was disappointed after one bite. Not by the concept – tomatoes, beans, onion and corn are a promising combination – but the flavour balance was off. It was too earthy, sweet and heavy, not enough sauce, tang and spice. I’ve tried a lot of veggie pies and this one is not a standout. Also, failing to spot any corn, I do wonder if this pie’s recipe has been modified since it first hit the shelves, so it now doesn’t stack up quite like it used to.
The pie’s recipe creator, Gemma, a raw food and vegan food blogger, noted ironically of her pie, “it’s not the kind of thing that I would typically go for, and not something that I would recommend eating every day”. I have to say I agree.
The new korma pie on the other hand, is pleasantly tasty. It gets the mix of sweet, coconuty and savoury right. The bean ratio is not overdone in relation to sauce ratio (as it is in the Mexican pie) and the veggies are soft but not pulpy.
(Korma pie to the left, Mexican pie to the right)
Both pies take very loose inspiration from the cultures they reference in their names. I’m imagining the rather nonplussed, amused faces I’d see if I took the Mexican pie to Mexico. And the ratio of coconut and spice mix in the korma pie makes it unlike any korma I’ve tasted.
So the winner is definitely the korma, although it’s a limited edition pie so who knows how long it’s around for. Hats off to Z for recognising that food tastes are diversifying. If you take a servo pie for what it is, then you’ll avoid too much disappointment here, with both pies punching above your average pie flavour threshold. But I’m definitely on team korma.