Saturday, January 07, 2012

Beware the puff that goes with the pastry

Pie in the sky: blarney on the packet had me fooled

What could be tastier than a traditional Irish pie? To be sure, it's a treat that has been celebrated over countless generations from Adare to Youghal. So when I saw in Sainsbury's that it had been revived by a brand called 'Six Hungry Sons', I naturally licked my lips. Pieces of chicken in a rich gravy with a shortcrust pastry base and a puff pastry lid and no punctuation.

This is nothing less than Michael's Chicken and Gravy Pie. I'm not sure who exactly Michael is, but I wonder if I'm looking at his picture in the aged sepia vignettes which have been lovingly dropped into the packaging? This is clearly a pie from the old school.

As an enchanting story begins to unfold, I get the sense that Michael might not actually be one of the little lads pictured. He sounds more like a roving gastronomical expert, travelling to the corners of the earth to uncover age-old recipes and revive them for countless others to enjoy. (Mainly people in the suburbs of London like me, who will gladly pay that little bit extra for olde worlde packaging and a slice of culinary life from the old country.)

The tale is a heart-warming one. An Irish lady called Kathleen sets a fine table and as the author puts down his fork and spoon after a satisfying supper, he can't help but ask the secret of her pie-making prowess. We learn that it's been passed down three generations over the course of more than a century. Which is just as well, as Kathleen has - wait for it - six hungry sons to feed.

As a sentimental tear rolls down my cheek, it falls just below the main body copy, where a disclaimer is printed in smaller type.

Made in the UK using Thai Chicken. By W A Turner of Tunbridge Wells.

Michael, my world is falling in around me. There I am thinking your man is selling me an old-school pie and it turns out to be more of an old-school Thai.

Meanwhile, in a supermarket on the outskirts of Limerick, there's probably someone picking up a green curry made to a traditional recipe passed on by a lady called Pen-Chan.

Copywriters, eh? My mum always warned me about them.

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