Tag Archive | Ardnamurchan Point

100 days – Day 22

100 days – Day 22  Steak Pie

I love steak pie!  Real steak pie, that is, and not some of the “pretend” pies served in some restaurants; you know what I mean?:  a separate ceramic dish with gravy and a couple of clumps of grizzle, covered with underdone soggy puff pastry – served on a dinner plate (often cold) with vegetables. You lift the pastry and think, “Hold on!  someone has pinched the meat from this!”

An abortion of a meal.  NO!  give me a REAL steak pie, preferably with kidneys, baked to perfection!.

Whenever Helen and I would go out for a meal, if steak pie was on the menu, I’d order it.  She was always in fear and trembling as to what my reaction to it would be, and, often, would try to dissuade me from having it (“look the salmon seems nice” or “you haven’t had liver and onions for a while” and so on).

I was delighted to read yesterday that there is now a petition on t’internet “demanding the criminal prosecution of people wrongly describing casseroles with pastry lids as pies.”

It’s an online document, logged with HM Government and for the attention of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, stating:

“For too long customers in pubs and restaurants have ordered what is described on the menu as a pie only to be served with casserole in a pot covered by a puff pastry lid.    (click on the link to add your signature)

pie steak and kidney

By the definitions of the website this meets the true definition of a pie

It points out the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a pie as being: “A baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry.”

As a final battle cry: “This petition urges the implementation of criminal sanctions upon the owners of food outlets that serve items described as pies without a pastry base.”

casserole pastry

THIS is not a pie

Perhaps controversially, it adds: “Exemptions will apply for Shepherds, Cottage and Fish Pies.”


Now, what about THIS?


The Fray Bentos Steak Pie (now made by Baxters)

Do you remember these culinary aberrations?

Look!  it’s not a pie; it’s stuff with pastry over it…. in a TIN!

Basically some sort of stew with a disc of pastry on top.  Where the  hell are the sides and bottom?!!!


(it’s like saying Pot Noodles are the same as Shanghai street food noodles)



Round about this time,45 years or so ago, following University Exams,  I went camping with a fellow student, Jim Halliday to Ardnamurchan Point in Lochaber.

It was dreary weather – wet, cold, and, to use a good old Scottish word, “dreich”

We pitched our tent and set about preparing an evening meal….. a Fray Bentos “steak” pie….on a small camping gas stove.

Well, it was supposed to take half an hour to cook, but after almost an hour – still not ready.

By now, the rain was clattering down. So,  guess what these two bright University undergraduates did?  Yes, we moved the stove INTO the tent, away from the wind and rain!

By this time, our camping gas cooker was almost empty, so Jim, thoughtfully (!) dug out another one.  Something wasn’t quite right with the valve – which he attacked with a Swiss Army knife – and WHOOSH! out spurted a stream of gas which hit the canister that was already lit……   and, I managed to get out from the back of the tent where I’d been sitting, by pulling up the tent pegs with the force of my body.

Lying on the grass outside the now blazing tent, the first thing my camping companion said was, “Oh, that looks weird: your hair (it was long in those days) is all covered in ferns”   Actually, Jim, it was my actual barnet* that was all frizzed up, because of the tongues of fire that had engulfed me.  Pentecost was never like THAT, I’m sure.

We ended up in a local hotel.  At first, they weren’t going to let us in; let’s face it who would want two soot-stained refugees who looked as if they were badly made up Al Jolson impersonators in “black face”?!

But they relented, and, after getting washed and changed, and downing a couple of large malts, we went into the dining room and had………..

………..  seafood! (I bet you thought that I was going to say “Steak Pie”.  Sorry!)

*  “barnet” – from Barnet Market and Fair – London Borough of Barnet  (rhyming slang)



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