It started with one, and ended up with nine. And it's getting quite expensive. I'm talking about the amount of meat-and-potato pies my colleagues insist on me bringing back from trips to Keighley. My parents' local butcher, Herd's, has been selling quality meat to the town for at least 50 years. There's always a queue, and at Christmas the locals are lined up right round the corner, or collecting their trays of 12 warm pork pies from the back door for a Christmas Eve pie and pea supper party. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. If pie and peas was a Piedmontese peasant dish it would be served up in the finest restaurants in Europe.
Herd's meat is as good as anything I've seen or tasted in Italy or France, and those meat and potato pies have a pavlov's dog-like effect on me whenever I think of them. In fact, my mouth's watering as I type this. It's even whispered that people come from Lancashire for these pies. The beef comes from the butcher's father-in-law's farm, in the bucolic reaches of the Worth Valley. The cows live a happy life eating the lush emerald grass of this rainy corner of God's Own County. The farmer tucks them up every night in their centrally heated byre, and reads them a story as the contented cows drift off to sleep. I can't honestly say if the potatoes had a similarly joyful life before they were pulled from the rich loam of the Vale Of York, to be stacked beneath a lightning-riven oak, then loaded onto a Bedford TK and driven off to the wholesale market at Beverley by a bib-and-brace overalls-wearing pipe-smoking bloke called Alf. Let's just say they did.