Sunday, 15 March 2009

I would never eat Pigeon Pie

I would never eat a Pigeon Pie. I love pigeons too much.

My father brought Dexter the pigeon home as little fledgeling he'd picked up by the side of the road. All vulnerable and pathetic, we fed it with a dropper until it turned into Dexter the Family Tyrant. I couldn't practise the piano without Dexter on my head pecking at my hair. Dinners had to be eaten with our feet up on the chair, because Dexter loved to peck our toes. Washing up was his favourite, though. He loved to sit under the pouring tap and cavort in the bubbles as my mother tried to scrub the dishes....and no matter how many times she threw him out of the back door, he had a wonderful trick of: whoh-whoh-whoh-whoh-whoh as he flew around the house to an open window; back in and back in the suds. We loved that bird.

Years later, here in London, we befriended a pigeon who arrived in our garden. But she couldn't fly. We saved her from the foxes, she recovered, and she never left.
Every morning she waited outside the kitchen window for her breakfast, and encouraged all the other pigeons to join in the corn feast on the deck. And if we went out, Pidge was the only one who didn't fly away. Pidge was a joy to all of us for the whole of that summer. We hadn't seen her for a while when out of the blue, she arrived at Bexie's window late in the evening. She walked all the way through to the bathroom where we were, and pathetically looked up at us. She'd come to us for help. Her crop was distended, and she could not eat or drink. We made her comfortable, and took her to the vet the next morning, and that, touchingly, was that.

Luckily, I've never fallen in love with a fish.

Fish pie
My mom made Fish Pie once, when she went to a smart cookery class. I remember it well. Here I have tried to re-create it, and this is the dish Becky asked for the very first time she came home from uni.

Plenty leeks, sliced and fried. Cook till very soft. I buy one fish pie mix, that's salmon chunks, mussels and calamari, plus a tray of white fish. Add it in chunks and turn in the leeks till the fish is barely cooked. There's a very tasty fish herb mixture you can get, and I sprinkled it on. Spread the fish and leek out evenly in a terracotta dish. Halve four hard-boiled eggs and distribute evenly. Now the white sauce. Equal butter and white flour, about an ounce each, this will do a half pint of milk, which of course you slowly mix in once the flour is toasty and golden. I've dutifully used a wooden spoon for this job all my life....then I discovered my soft whisk...and trust me, use a whisk. Smooth as silk, and no one will guess in a million years you didn't use a wooden spoon. Whisk until thickened, add the salt and pepper and a bit of dry English mustard powder and cook a little more. Pour over. Creamy mashed potato smoothed over the top, grated cheddar over that, bake for a good 25 minutes - Fish Pie. Just like mother made (once only, ma!!)


  1. Oh, you've such a good memory. I'd forgotten that little tyrant.
    Yum, fish pie. I'm making a lightly curried lentil soup for dinner.

  2. oh... I'm threadlink in another dimension.