I have a friend whose favourite insult is "she/he's got a face like a dropped pie". Obviously this isn't a very nice thing to say about someone but it is quite brilliantly descriptive. I know exactly what a dropped pie looks like and I certainly wouldn't ever want it to be compared to my face.
As I mentioned before, I'm good at savoury stuff- unless it involves pastry. Having attempted pastry making on many occasions and ended up on the verge of a breakdown almost every time I've vowed never to do it again- far too stressful and fiddly. (We are talking about simple shortcrust here. the puff variety could drive anyone to complete insanity within half an hour). Plus, I've watched enough TV chefs to know that you don't actually HAVE to make your own all the time, so it's fine to buy it in a neat little rectangular block. Really.
Anyway, one day I really fancied a chicken and bacon pie, and spent ages shopping for the ingredients. I bought the nicest, leanest pancetta and plumpest, corn fed chicken thigh fillets, trailed the market for fresh thyme and leeks and even picked a bottle of Marsala (thanks Nigella). This was gonna be some tasty pie.
I got home and got started. Recently married and with a small daughter, I was really going hell for leather on the whole homecooking thing. It was, still is, really important to me that Rosie gets decent food instead of living off junk, and from an early age she's helped me cook. On many occasions it would have probably worked out better if I'd let her prepare the whole thing herself.
I took out my perfect rectangle of shop bought pastry and thought what a shame it was to ruin it by rolling it out- but did it anyway. Strange forces must have been at work on this occasion because I took heed of the recipe and baked it blind, before adding the filling. Getting a bit cocky with myself at this point, I lovingly arranged the remaining pastry into an elaborate lattice effect topping and stood back to admire my work of art. Within about an hour I had what smelled like the perfect pie. I peered apprehensively through the oven window, scared to look, and was amazed to find it looked great too. The lattice top was golden, with creamy, mouthwatering filling oozing up in little diamonds. I was so proud and relieved I almost cried.
What happened next was such a cruel act of fate that I can hardly bear to think about it. It was mid September, and still warm outside. There are two things in life that I'm scared of- clowns and daddy long legs. I know the daddy long legs thing is ridiculous (can't say the same about clowns- everyone knows they're evil) because they are so small, and much more scared of us that we are of them, blah blah blah, but I hate the way they float grotesquely through the air, stupid dangly legs trailing behind them, and go straight for your face. I'd left the door open as these were the days of my old kitchen, before the extractor hood came along to suck up all the nasty smells and smoke, and hadn't made the connection that September + open door + lights on= daddy long legs attack.
Just as I was gently lifting my proudest culinary achievement out of the oven with my gingham oven gloves (I may also have been wearing an apron to complete the cliche) three of the hateful floaty six legged demons headed straight at me in formation- like a nightmarish version of the Battle of Britain flypast. I instantly shrieked and dropped the pie dish on the floor, as its steaming hot innards oozed over my foot. I didn't even consider how much it hurt to have something that had just come out of a 200C oven on my bare skin at that point, so bereft and bemused was I by what had just happened. I thought, for a moment, about scooping it all up and serving it, because it smelt so good and I was starving hungry and distressed, but within about 2 seconds the cat was attempting to eat it, even though it was burning his nose so much that he jumped away as if he'd been slapped in the face.
A dropped pie is a sorry looking thing. It's broken pastry and splodgy, messy, runny filling weeping sadly onto the floor. It's miserable and desperate, and impossible to cure or dress up into something that looks attractive. Anyone who truly has a face like a dropped pie is probably incurably unhappy, bitter and a little bit twisted. And this is what makes it such a brilliant insult.