The quintessentially South Australian pie floater was reputedly invented by a Port Pirie baker known as Ern ‘Shorty’ Bradley. It consists of an upside-down pie in a bowl of pea soup, topped with tomato sauce. It is eaten with a spoon. Sometimes the tomato sauce is replaced with vinegar or Worcestershire sauce.
The Floater became a popular dish at the many pie carts that operated in Adelaide in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The first pie cart is thought to have been operating by 1860 outside the Adelaide Post Office. By the turn of the century, there were 13 carts dotted around the city. However from the late 1930s, as the operators ceased trading, the Adelaide City Council refused to re-issue licenses and by 1958 only two remained. The last pie cart, outside Adelaide’s Central Station, was closed in 2010, but the pie floater is available through bakeries, including several 24-hour establishments, so late-night revellers can get their floater fix.
In 2003, the South Australian National Trust recognised the pie floater as a South Australian Heritage Icon.