Wednesday, 18 July 2007

As pies become edible, we stop eating them

566505_15441081 If fast food is killing us, it has probably already killed what was once a staple of the British diet (and, what got British food such a bad name): the pie. Occasionally, I get a craving for one of those pork jobbies as illustrated right.

The dog can have the meat, but I happen to like the "crunchy hot-water-crust and pale jelly". Well, maybe "like" is a rather strong word.

Perhaps it's just perverse nostalgia for the days, when I grew up, when even Frey Bentos pies were considered to be a perfectly viable meal. At least they were in our house: my mother can't boil water or cook eggs, because they don't have instructions on the tin, but a Frey Bentos pie she could manage!

 frey_bentos Photo: sky_mitchNow, if you are in the US, I probably have to explain this, because, reading the FAQ at UKGoods, their response to the question, "Why don't you stock Frey-Bentos tinned pies?" is because "The United States does not allow these items to be imported." Probably very wise, but hardly fair: we all get your hamburgers!

So, for those of you unfamiliar with these delicacies, pictured, is "Exhibit A", a fully cooked Frey Bentos pie. They come in that tin that you cook them in, after removing the lid. And, you have to admit that it looks OK, until you read the list of ingredients that includes "two colourings, three flavour enhancers, one stabiliser and two flavourings, as well as beef fat and monosodium glutamate, "dried beef bonestock" and the enigmatic "Herb".

I knew if I looked hard enough, I'd find sites still selling these - I imagined there was a market, along with Marmite, amongst expats. Don't be put off by their designer image - at least if I put in my location in the Canary Islands - I could still buy Frey Bentos pies from UK groceries, in no less than 6 different varieties. Operative word being could: I have no intention of doing so!

smash The only things you need to make this meal just a tad more authentic would be some Smash Instant Mashed Potatoes and Mushy Peas, proudly described on the can as "Original Cooked Dry Peas, artificially colored".

mushypeas Well, that's a relief: I was worried there for a moment that the Martian / Kermit like Glo-in-the-Dark green might have been natural. Knowing it's the result of a nuclear accident would be more reassuring. Ah, yes the point ...

Well, an article in the Telegraph provoked tears of laughter in Brits of "a certain age" (those of us from the "Generations fought their way through the most unbelievably horrid rot just to keep the dream alive"), along with the disclosure that "One fifth of 16- to 19-year-olds have never eaten a pasty; 42 per cent have never tasted steak 'n' kiddley; 65 per cent have never scoffed a Melton Mowbray. Ginsters delights not them. No, nor Fray Bentos neither."

The poor things! But, if "Those days are gone. In any Tesco, you can now find an array of tastebud-ravishing ready-made pies for on-the-go singletons."

And, apparently, these days they're even edible too!

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