I’ve mentioned The Etymologicon before (one of my first Kindle purchases). It has to be one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. How about this, from the section ‘Beastly Foreigners’, all about the English’s predilection for slandering their neighbours:
The Welch are said to be so remarkably fond of cheese, that in cases of difficulty their midwives apply a piece of toasted cheese to the juana vita [gates of life] to attract and entice the young Taffy, who on smelling it makes most vigorous efforts to come forth. Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1811
It creates an alarming picture in my imagination: a kind of Roald Dahl/ Meet the Midwife/Hammer House of Horror combo that I really don’t want to pursue. I also now feel a little reluctant to admit that I am ‘remarkably’ fond of cheese so I shall head in the direction of pies instead.
Meet the Ron Evans classic pie: mince and onion. Ron Evans has been making these pies, well, not the current Ron and not these three pies specifically, in Port Talbot since 1926. I keep promising to take some home to Kent but the last couple of trips have seen me travelling back on a Sunday or Monday. But my next return journey will be on a weekday so I’ll be making a pit-stop at the Taibach shop on my way to the M4. Crisp pastry, a seasoned, saucy filling: pies to live, as opposed to die, for. I’m not that fond of the local moniker, a ‘Runny Ron’: more of a Benny Hill/Anthony Worrall Thompson combo that I’d also prefer not to pursue.
I had very good pies at my life writing course, Life Matters, at Mendham Mill (organised by Rochelle Scholar of Mendham Writers) a couple of weeks ago too. Steak and Ale, courtesy of Bronwen, cook and nurturer extraordinaire, who kept us all magnificently fed and watered from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime.
Home-made with love.
I haven’t spent as much time as this in Port Talbot for many, many years and I might be enjoying the town now more than I ever did when I lived here, particularly its plethora of cafés and food shops. This morning I headed off to one highly recommended venue for a mid-morning pasty snack. I even took a picture of it, all warm and cosy inside its torn open paper bag, on the dashboard of my car (it was raining) before I took that first tantalising bite. Oh. Dear. No. Bad pasty.
Too much thick pastry and nowhere nearly enough seasoning. In my opinion, of course. Other people will love them I’m sure.
I suppose that’s the risk of a recovered enthusiasm: idealism and self-manufactured illusions can give way to disappointment. But that’s reality. And that’s what Real Port Talbot has to be: warts and beauty spots. And I’m sure most people here will agree we have a pretty good supply of both. But for dinner tonight it’s all beauty: thanks to Ron Evans.
Hungry Writing Prompts
- Write about making fun of someone.
- Write about pies.
- Write about someone who cares.
- Write about being disappointed.
- Write about what is beautiful.
Just finished your book The Oven House and although it was not my usual read I have to say I enjoyed it. I even identified with the main character..wonder what that says about me!