DUNCAN BARKES: My life of pie... and the rules thereof

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What constitutes a pie?

It might seem like a daft question, but campaigners are trying to overturn what they believe is an ‘archaic’ rule in order to allow Shepherd’s and Cottage pie access to the pie club.

I do not think such dishes should be admitted.

Nothing beats a decent pie. Pork pies are my absolute favourite, ideally eaten with a jar of Colman’s Mustard and accompanied by a pint of real ale.

The annual British Pie Awards aim to reward the creators of the best pies in the country.

They are pretty tough on the entry criteria.

They say: “A pie is deemed to be a filling totally encased in pastry,” and of course they are spot on. Lattice, fruit and potato toppings are banned. No exceptions.

Little brings more disappointment to a gastronome than, having ordered one’s pie of choice, being presented with something that is simply a wannabe pie.

The tastebuds of the diner are tingling as the knife enters the roof of the dish.

Then – wallop! Anticipation is cruelly dashed as realisation dawns: the only pastry in town is that of 
the lid.

The chef has not only conned you, but has the audacity to call his creation a pie.

It is not. It is a dish of stew with a pastry hat on. Trading standards take note.

A campaign to allow Shepherd’s and Cottage pie ‘pie status’ is absurd.

Popular opinion is divided though, with 60 per cent of those asked believing that these potato-topped imposters should be classed as proper pies.

If you allow the Shepherd or Cottage into the pie club, then surely you are only a crumb away from the pasta bake or lasagne joining the party. How can you possibly define one as pie and the other not?

Britain has a fine track record when it comes to pies.

It is the kind of comfort food that brightens up the dullest day.

But to start abusing the term to include anything that is not fully encased in pastry would be a culinary travesty.

I am ready to man the barricades to protect the reputation of the pukka pie. Who’s with me?