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Comedy, Think Piece


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.




















Comedy, Think Piece


Author: Mark Smith

When I was seven years old I ate a pie so hot all my teeth fell out. My mum carefully gathered them all up and stuck them in her own mouth, creating a second row of teeth like a shark before screaming “MAYBE NOW YOU WILL GROW UP YOU PLEB”. She didn’t half look silly with my teeth in her gob. We both started cracking up and I got to gumming the rest of my dinner. Now I must admit, not all of that story is true, for a start I have never been seven years old, but it does make you think…..what is Pie? Pie only has three letters, making it anagrammatically stupid , unless you count “epi” which is probably out of order. So we must conclude Pie only has one primary objective; being well good. In fact I often eat pie and think “This is well good. I’m really happy” and I will eat the whole lot in silence, but always thinking. It was during one of these silent pastry mind discos that I thought “Why don’t I make pies?” and I literally smiled.

 First things first; I needed a trip to Wilkos. Friends of mine will tell you I have an unhealthy obsession with Wilkinsons ( but I’d rather you didn’t talk to my friends ).Whenever I walk away with my goods I expect a security guard to put his hand on my shoulder and say “sorry dreamboat, we have sold those goods to you at an unrealistically low price” and we’d both laugh with our heads thrown back and he’d make that weird sound at the back of his throat which sounds like a bird yacking up a bit of bread or whatever they eat ( I once saw a seagull eat a duckling. Fucking horrible ) and it kind of kills the moment. Anyway, I get a muffin tin, a rolling pin, and a pastry brush. I also got some other bits but that’s none of your business you nosey parker. I read about muffin tin pies somewhere, probably England, and they really do look the business. They are fucking huge. So I decided to make pies the size of massive muffins and I smiled for the second time in as many decades.

 Short crust pastry is easy. You know when your mum makes pastry and it takes all afternoon and she’s screaming at you because your micro machines keep ending up in her hair? Yeah she was totally faking that. It’s made me question how many other things were actually easy but made to look difficult. Anyway, I tried a few different recipes and my fave is Gordan Ramsay’s. The good thing with this is it’s easy to remember, whatever amount of flour you use just add half the weight in butter, then water until you have the right consistency. And that’s the only useful thing you will read in this Godforsaken piece of shit.

 Before long I had made several different types of pies and decided I was going to be a pretty big deal. I was even working on a strapline “Eat it, beat it, heat it, cheat it, seat on it” and I was really happy with that because it said loads and rhymed, and also if you take the last word of every phrase it makes “it it it it” which is sublimely pretty.

 My friends will tell you, if I allowed it, that when I put my mind to something I follow it through. I’m only joking; I‘m a fucking joke of a human, I DON’T DO NUFFIN GOOD. But hindsight is a wonderful thing, and whilst in the throes of piesion ( like passion but with pies. Not like THAT you sick bastard ) I was sure I would be a professional pie maker. Let’s put it this way; I would be surprised if I had to queue up at Wilkos anymore. I mean, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be at Wilkos, of course I would, I just wouldn’t queue. And I’m not saying I would steal. I guess what I’m saying is I could go to Wilkos and perhaps have a “fast service” till of some kind? And if that isn’t practical maybe I could just use the basket aisle? I’m not going to be a dick about it.

 I was ready to be a pie maker.

 One day, I even looked at little pie cabinets to keep my pies warm when I sold them at Hitchin Market.

 I made pies for my family.

 I made pies for my friends ( don’t talk to them ).

 I made pies to take to work for my lunches.

And then I stopped making pies. I stopped making pies because I remember something Homer Simpson said…. “trying is the first step towards failure”

 I haven’t made a pie in six months.