The Way We Were by Colin Ella - Part 31: A mouth-watering delight

editorial image

Of course we have always had the old favourite, fish and chips, a real tempter if ever there was one, but I think back to those times of regular feasts on rabbit pie, leek pie, jugged hare, the wonderful Irish stews and especially meat and potato pie; ‘tater pie’ as called it.

At one time folk consumed loads of fat without ever giving it any more thought than the sheer enjoyment of having it.

I had an auntie who would always eat all the fat off many a dish and I can see her now asking us to pass over any lumps of fat we had left and she would eat the lot. She lived to the age of 89! I used to visit an uncle who lived in a large hall-like house, out in the country near Bawtry. He and his wife lived in just one corner of this mansion and I think my uncle (who was a farmworker) must have been allowed to live there by its real owner. But what I most remember is how my uncle would sit and eat almost all of a rabbit set in a huge, square tin.

I could not believe my eyes. He was a real hard worker but what an appetite!

But to get back to the time when ‘tater pie’ was so much the order of the day, and when it perhaps out-rivalled its illustrious ‘cousin’, the Lancashire hot pot. Of course, the uses of the potato as a food are legion and our Indian and Oriental friends make far more of it than we do.

For me, of all the dishes it featured in, ‘tater pie’ was the best. It seemed to appear on the table at least once a week and the combination of potatoes, meat and onions under that thick, lightly browned pastry capping, gave off an irresistible aroma, and the taste was out of this world.

This delight was much appreciated anytime but especially on a cold winter’s day, for then it could be guaranteed to send a warm glow into cold fingers and toes.

‘Tater pie’ was a great favourite for serving at all sorts of social occasions; concerts, chapel events, parties and so forth. It was an ideal economical dish too, ideal for gatherings large or small. Served at Christmas Eve jollities it was often accompanied by pickles and cabbage, but I have to say, these additions were not to my taste.

As we look back and recall the many grand culinary delights of years gone by and so relish the memory of rich and satisfying tastes, then perhaps do question a little the march of modern progress. But we do not want to live in the past. We can still enjoy a lot of good, wholesome food, and after all folk are living a lot longer today!

Next week in Part 32 - The Long And Short Of It.