So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to the crust' pies on the website look exactly like, and I mean unequivocally identical to, the pie delivered to your door, lovingly wrapped, protected and chilled in a polystyrene box.
I didn't know about the bakery business when I came across a Facebook link to the birth of the Radford family's 19th child and then Googled them to find out a bit more, astonished by a family of that size and, I'll be honest, wondering whether they were financially supported by our Benefits system. But they're not. The only payment they receive is the standard Child Benefit.
And I felt a bit guilty afterwards, like a Daily Mail reading curtain twitcher who assumes the worse in people... tabloid headlines and sensationalist 'benefits' TV programme titles taint us even when we don't read or watch them. So let's get back to goodness. And the goodness and deliciousness that is a Radford's Chicken & Mushroom Pie. And as there are only two of us at home we naturally ordered the Family Size (!) which weighs in at 1.25kg and, unlike so many pre-prepared meals that promise 2, 4 or 6 portions, would definitely feed a whole family. Not the 19 in the Radford Family... but it'll easily fill the bellies of 6. Naturally, again, we ate half between us.
Words failed us shortly after this photo.
I don't write promotional blogposts. I don't accept payment for recommendations. Writing about Radford's Pie Company is a genuine appreciation for people who love what they do and work hard to achieve their success, and support other local businesses at the same time. Passion, sincerity, honesty, generosity. Our world needs people like this.
And I am damn glad I found them, not least because I can now make that terrible pun:
I have pied and gone to heaven.
'The best chicken and mushroom pie I have ever tasted,' Tony said.
I didn't say anything for about 30 minutes. Then I lay down on the sofa to dream about my next order. Steak & Stilton? Leek, Chestnut Mushroom & Gruyere Cheese? Chicken & Gammon?
I think we need to organise a Pie Party.