As you know I like to mash up life’s tedious predictability whenever I can.
“Let’s swap roles,” I said to Guido in bed Wednesday night.
It’s definitely not what you’re thinking.
“I’ll cook dinner tomorrow,” I said jauntily choosing to ignore the groaning noises emanating from the darkness on the other side of the bed.
In the morning I called my mother to confirm the recipe for her all time favourite (classic) Ham and Egg Pie.
Please note how I’ve put the word (classic) into parenthesis. The only thing my mother was able to cook (from scratch) – please note how I’ve also put the words (from scratch) into parenthesis – was that pie. She made it a trillion times when I was a kid. Anytime I ever asked what’s for dinner it was always that. Occasionally she’d try to throw me off the scent by calling it Egg and Ham Pie but she never fooled me one bit because it always turned out to be Ham Before The Egg Pie.
You whisk egg the way you’d prepare scrambled, with a knob of butter and a splash of full cream milk, then pour straight into a pie dish. The ham was chopped bacon, which my mother hacked to bits with a pair of her dress making shears. Then she’d open a pack of ready made filo pastry, throw it with a memorable flourish on top of the wet mixture, and then bake it for about 25 minutes. It was surprisingly good.
I dialled Cruella’s number.
“I’ve decided to cook (from scratch) your (classic) Ham and Egg Pie for dinner,” I said. There was a long silence. I think she could hear the parenthesis crackle down the line.
“Oh God, does Guido know yet?” was all she asked.
At work I wrote down the recipe ingredients on my notepad just in case I inadvertently forgot any. Ham. Tick. Eggs. Tick. Pack of ready made filo pastry. Tick. I chewed the end of my pen. Whisk egg. Chop bacon. Turn on oven. This was beginning to sound complicated.
“I’ve decided to take the afternoon off,” I said to my assistant Toby, “I’m cooking dinner for Guido and this recipe takes a LOT of preparation.”
Toby raised an eyebrow.
Last night I made the pie. It took several attempts to open the packet of pastry but I persevered. I set the table. I lit a candle. I poured wine.
“Well,” said Guido, “I’m not sure how you’ve achieved this.” He prodded the pie like it was radioactive waste. “The eggs are so over-cooked they taste like chalk, but bizarrely, the bacon’s still raw.” He put his cutlery down and picked a piece of shell from between his two front teeth. “Without a doubt this is the worst pie I’ve ever tasted.”
“Gosh, that’s quite an accolade!” I gushed, thinking how badly things could have turned out, “thank you so much!”
“But you know what?” he said swilling some Pinot Grigio, “you’ve given me a weird marketing idea.”
When I got home tonight I discovered Guido removing a sign from the cafe window. It read, and I quote:
We Sell The Worst Pies in London – They’re Revolting
Apparently Guido’s pies, with hand carved ham and free-range egg, wrapped in a parmesan crust, sold out within the hour.
You’ll be relieved to know he made sure that they were completely free of any added parenthesis whatsoever.