Nice as Pie

Ten years ago we were in Panama preparing to do the longest sailing trip of our lives, the approximately 4000 miles across the Pacific from Panama to the Galapagos and onto the Marquesas. This was probably going to take up to four weeks but I had to provision for longer to allow for any hiccups along the way. I had never done this for such a long trip and, to be honest, didn’t have a clue. Luckily I met a fabulous lady, Diane, who took me under her wing and gave me lots of info and advice.

As well as all the usual staples, she suggested a few treats to keep the crew happy. We were wandering around a huge supermarket in Panama when she spotted a tinned Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie. “Oh, you’ve got to have one of those. They’re really useful to keep in the cupboard for emergencies”. I bought one but, between you and me, I was a bit sniffy about it. Tinned pie?! Full of salt and fat! No thank you!

Some months later we were on day 10 of a passage between Tahiti and Fiji. We could see the reef, we could see friends inside the reef on their boats, we could hear the celebratory tssskk of beer cans opening. We just couldn’t get in there to join them! It was too dark by then and and too risky to attempt the reef opening. I was so fed up as we had tried so hard to get there earlier but it wasn’t to be. I had no fresh food left and went off to rummage in the lockers to see what we could have for dinner. There, at the bottom, was the salty, fatty steak and kidney pie, a bit rusty now and dented, but suddenly quite tempting. We had it with powdered garlic mash potato and a glass of red while we motored up and down all night until sunrise. To this day one of the best meals of my life!

Unfortunately the supplier of the flat, round tins went bust and Fray Bentos couldn’t find a replacement and stopped making them so it looked like that was to be our last. However I’d heard another supplier had been found and, whilst in Waitrose (yes, Waitrose!) in London, came across one which I bought and slipped into my shopping bag hoping the nutrition police wouldn’t seize it on the way out.

Last week, with Andy and I in the depths of colds, coughs and misery, I got it out and cooked it with Jersey Royal potatoes (I’m so much posher now!) and carrots.

It was bloody lovely!


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