Author: Leon Camfield
Illustration: Mark Smith
Having read Mark Smith’s brilliant and bonkers piece on pies ( I USED TO PIE HARD BUT NOW I DON’T ), it got me thinking about my own relationship with pastry-wrapped goodness. I love a pie, me. And I bloody love making them, especially savoury ones. There’s something beyond comforting about assembling a pie; the sticky-but-satisfying rubbing together of fat and flour; the hours spent putting together a rich stew (which is all a meat pie filling is, really); then the critical moment of rolling out the pastry and bringing it together. I’m planning on not having children, so I guess that pushing a steak and kidney into the oven is about as close as I’m ever going to get to seeing my kid toddle off to his first day of school, only far more rewarding.
Romantic vision, right? Well, sadly the truth is far often more pragmatic, and consequently, more disappointing. For a start – my hands. I have a half-decent set of hands. I’ve used them in the past for a variety of functions, from sexually interfering with a woman, to wordlessly thanking a fellow motorist for letting me through; sometimes I even manage it without looking like I’m saluting Adolf Hitler. I know my hands make the best pastry, so why do I keep insisting on using a fucking food processor? How many times am I going to keep making this error? Why don’t I learn? “I’ll just whiz it in there for a few seconds, i won’t overdo it, I’ll just” –
Then there’s rolling the pastry out. Now, my kitchen’s tiny, so I know that I should go to my dining table, clear everything off it – yeah, even the salt cellar and that letter from the debt collector that somehow escaped my diligent shredding agenda. Then I should get a wet cloth and clean said table, before drying it with a tea towel…
Instead, I’ll roll it out on the one square foot of space in the kitchen, and I’ll go easy on the flour, because it bloody goes everywhere. And what happens? “I’ll roll it out quickly, this should be a doddle” and then –
We are all, truly, our own worst enemy.
My girlfriend makes amazing pastry. I think it’s something only a patient person can do well. We have all manner of high-tech gadgets in our house, but she eschews them all for her perfect little hands. She says food made with hands is food made with love, and that you can taste love. She has such tiny hands, and i enjoy watching her carefully measure out the flour and butter. She stands over the bowl with an air of authority, like a witch crafting her finest love potion – and it works; I certainly love her a little more every time she plonks a pie in front of me where her shortcrust is superbly short and her rough puff is puffed, and, well – rough. By the same token, every time my pastry shrinks or cracks, I disproportionately berate myself in the above-mentioned manner, especially with regard to not doing things properly.
I don’t believe that every story has to have a point, but I think this one does. They say that madness is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. They also say that the old-fashioned way of doing things is invariably better, and that if we could only go back to a time where life was more simple, maybe we’d all be a little happier. But that’s not the point of this story. Here is the point –
– I live with a woman who almost definitely makes better pastry than anyone you live with. And her tits are fucking massive.