More medieval spectacle than food, this dish was a popular crowd-pleaser.
The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes notes that an Italian cookbook of 1549 offered a recipe for making "pyes so that birds may be alive in them and flie out when it is cut up." The crust was prepared with temporary contents, such as stones or dried beans, to weigh down the bottom crust and support the lid while baking, and was then emptied.
After baking, small live birds, such as blackbirds, were then tethered inside without being harmed. At an appropriate moment, the top crust was removed, causing a commotion inside the pie. When increased drama was desired, the birds were left unsecured and allowed to fly around the room. Crazy!
Not until the 1500s did pie filling generally include fruit.