DUNCAN BARKES Don’t let our Great British pies disappear

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It is only a matter of time before pies are banned. Given the recent measures introduced to nudge us towards a healthier lifestyle, I predict the great British pie could well be in the crosshairs of the food police. With this semi-serious prospect in mind, I want to share with you my love of pie.

Readers of my acquaintance will be fully aware of my expanding girth. Much time and investment has gone into creating my portly frame, and pie has played a part.

Of course advocates of pie have always been on the large side. Who can forget the Dandy comic pin-up Desperate Dan and his love of cow pie? Or Richard Griffiths, who starred in the television show Pie in the Sky about a detective who also ran a restaurant of the same name?

Pies hit a spot other foods simply cannot reach. I have fond memories of being in Edinburgh and walking across the city on a cold November morning with a rumbling stomach. My companion suggested popping into the next bakers and picking up a Scotch pie – never has something so simple provided so much gastronomic pleasure. Equally, a pork pie on a summer’s day, with a smear of mustard or a spoonful of chutney, in the back garden or at a picnic, really makes the moment.

And come winter, a pie really comes into its own. Knowing there’s a big helping waiting for you to tuck into for supper quite simply gets you through the day. The golden, crumbly pastry, nestling up to meat simmered in wine and herbs, with a few potatoes and some green vegetables, sitting majestically on a river of glistening gravy, makes even the grimmest of days bearable.

I am ashamed to say I have never made a proper pie. It is something I must get around to. Every man should make it his business to know how to turn out a decent pie.

But for now at least my pies tend to be shop-bought, and I go for traditional fare. Heston Blumenthal can keep his squirrel and avocado versions.

You still occasionally find a butcher that knocks out his own pies. When I worked on Merseyside the butcher over the road used to do a roaring trade with his creations, and wholesome meaty delicacies they were too.

One of my eating-out gripes is it is increasingly rare to see find a pie on the menu in a restaurant. You might see the odd fish pie, or the obligatory steak and kidney, but today this is often the exception and rarely the rule.

But what about you? Who makes the best pie in your household? Or where do you buy yours? Why is good pie hard to find? Let’s talk pie without prejudice.