MMM, PIE: THERE IS A GOD
Years ago, when I was a Theology student (no sniggering at the back) we were asked to submit an essay on the existence of God. Cribbing from the standard texts, I came up with an answer that was a solid B- and indeed would have passed muster had I not been in my more, relatively, rebellious days and decided to add two hitherto unknown proofs of my own
1) Felicity Kendall’s bottom – those under 35 years old will struggle to recall, when seeing the execrable TV Show Rosemary & Thyme, that the slightly haggard face we see now was once the subject of every wank fantasy in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Her bottom alone probably caused the first stirrings for many a young man and which of us would not have committed unspeakable acts to replace Tom Good as he, er, plowed his furrow?
2) Pie – Even then some twenty-five years ago, pie was very important to me. The “flat” pie from our local chippie filled with creamy chicken & mushroom, the steak & kidney pie with flaky puff pastry from The Belvedere pub which came with proper chips cooked in dripping and, best of all, the pies made by my mother and Welsh grandmother. As I said in my essay “ if you do not enjoy a good pie, then you are probably dead, or deserve to be and God probably hates you.”
End result a large red F on my essay and a request to visit a camp but rather severe tutor cleric to discuss my suitability for the Batchelor of Divinity course.
I have been thinking about pie a lot recently. Primarily because, as I travel around the globe, it is one of the things I miss most of all.
With the exception of the Australians, no one else on earth comes close to making a decent pie. In the US, when you say pie, they think you mean something with fruit in it. In other countries, they just look at you blankly.
Which is why, with pie in mind, I ordered one at MARKET the other night. But, damn them, they had sold the last one to some chinless oik with his collar turned up who would probably not have known a good pie if it came up to him, slapped his ruddy face and said “ I am a pie and a damn good one”
I thought a lot about that pie yesterday and, by lunchtime had decided to make one of my own. So there.
I am a perfectly decent cook. Nothing remarkable, but enthusiastic. So, a bit of a google (which actually did involve looking at You Tube to remind myself just how cute Felicity Kendall was. The answer, damn cute) came up with a recipe for Chicken & Ham Pie with leeks and onions.
All straight forward. I boned eight chicken thighs (retaining the skin to make chicken crackling, I am not an savage) chopped the flesh up and coated in flour seasoned with nutmeg. I then layered my pot with chopped leeks, onions, strips of ham and the chicken, seasoning all the way before adding a little stock and topping off with a bit of puff pastry.
After cooking for an hour, I let it rest and then funnelled in some cream through the steam holes.
I have to say the end result was pretty good and with a bit of sweet potato mash assuaged my pie needs for a little while at least.
I have been thinking that we need to make a British version of “American Pie” The father, played by James Bolam, I think, would walk in to find his teenage son with his engorgement in a chicken & ham pie. He would, of course, be holding, in his hands, a picture of Felicity Kendal in The Good Life.