In praise of: Melton Mowbray pork pies

Categories: Product stories

A Borough Market institution

Words: Mark Riddaway

My dad has a problem with pies. He loves them like Imelda Marcos loved a kitten heel. He could eat one every day (and often has). In his world, there is such a thing as a ‘cheeky’ pie—one consumed casually, if somewhat furtively, between meals, entirely on a whim, like the pie addict’s version of a nip from a hip flask.

Recently, at a beer festival, he chose a large pie for his dinner, then as the event was drawing to a close disappeared very suddenly, citing the imminent departure of his train. I found him on the platform a while later with a second large pie disappearing into his face—not so much a cheeky pie as a dangerously insolent one. He begged me not to grass him up to my mum, who for years has been the Jackie to his pie-eating Zammo. I vowed to never tell.

As the son of a pie addict, I’ve always been wary of my genetic inheritance. I love pie too, with a passion that runs deep in my soul, but I live in fear of that headlong slide towards a regular mid-morning Gregg’s. As a result, I value quality over quantity; a pattern of self-denial and glorious self-indulgence.

Very heaven 
My absolute favourite is a Borough Market institution. Bliss it is to eat a pork pie, but a Mrs King’s pork pie is very heaven. The pastry, made with melted lard, is both crispy and crumbly. The filling is prime pork shoulder, the jelly purest essence of pig’s trotter.

Like all genuine Melton Mowbray pies, no machines are used in its assembly, resulting in something that looks more like a Victorian etching than a modern foodstuff. And it’s huge: big enough to feed four people. Or, to put it another way, probably just about big enough to feed my dad. For a few hours at least.