Pie of the week: from Home Farm Bakery, Athersley, Barnsley

Photo: Jimmy Andrex

Some pies are more than pies. Some are an all-enveloping experience. On another lockdown Monday in winter, when we can’t really go anywhere or do very much, and when the daily death-toll refuses to do the decent thing and slope downwards, this feast from Home Farm Bakery, eaten in your car, provides comfort beyond words.

Served over the counter with peas, chips and gravy, it doesn’t have to impress Heston Blumenthal or a colour supplement foodie. Anyway, what is a foodie? The New Yorker recently featured a quote from author Fran Lebowitz that attacked the very existence of the word.

“I despise the term ‘foodie’. I mean, how is this a personality? ‘I like food’ – how original. Do you also like air? Water? Shelter?”

And there’s the thing: this is the stuff of life. Just like the middle-aged woman in a mobility cart who’s looking after her three-year-old granddaughter, by taking her on her knee round Poundstretcher; just like the bloke taking his learning disabled adult son to the local bakery for some lunch because that’s his release from being stuck in the house coping with perpetual anxiety and depression; just like the builder who comes in for a sandwich and, when asked how he is, replies: “Living the Dream.” 

It would be tempting to let slip the cliché that this is The Real World, but this is no more or less ‘real’ than a leafy home counties village or an edgy bit of Dalston Junction. It’s just how millions of ordinary people spend their lives. 

I once used to do supply teaching in this part of Barnsley and what students said they aspired to was really interesting. One pair of lads, neither of them stupid, said they “couldn’t be arsed” with maths, but were really excited that a certain type of rare baseball cap was rumoured to be available that week at Meadowhall. Another girl said she wasn’t bothered about careers or money so long as she “had enough to get by”.

This is food which has its own criteria, thank you very much, just as people round here have their own take on life. People with power agendas like to project all sorts of stereotypes onto the residents of places like Athersley, without really bothering to spend any time here just watching and listening. When times are hard, we take comfort anywhere we can, with anything that works.

On a lockdown Monday, this comfort is always available, served hot and served quickly over the counter. And you’ll always get a kind word and a smile. And a knife and fork.

What’s not to like?

Can you help us reach more readers?