Evidence that Fran's willpower goes only so far ....
But I was determined. I can resist Christmas pudding, and brandy butter, and salted peanuts, but once I see a pile of mince pies, I'm am to that pile what a wrecking ball is to a block of condemned flats. BOOM! All gone, but for the dust.
Having lost a little weight before Christmas, I didn't want to put it all back on. And I knew the mince pies would do that. So, that's a 'Good girl' sticker for me.
|My kind of mince pie, with pastry so thick it's a medical emergency|
Today, however, I found a pork pie in the fridge I had forgotten was there. And, damn, or maybe it was 'Hurrah!' it was still in date.
As we all know, pork pie pastry isn't merely pastry. It's a heart attack and a six-month recovery period wrapped around a giant lump of processed pork and glazed with egg white. Still, one pork pie doth not equal seventy-three mince pies, so all is not lost. Yet.
I have a friend who doesn't eat pastry. As I said to her, 'How are you even STILL ALIVE? Pastry is basically BREATHING.'
Pastry talks to me in a kind of Clooney-esque low-toned come-hither voice and it was SO hard over Christmas, ignoring the invitations from mince pies as I passed them at the school Christmas lunch or at family get-togethers.
It's all Mrs Gough's fault. My relationship with pastry goes way back to the days of Mrs Gough and O'level Domestic Science. This teacher and I weren't the best of friends. She never forgave me for swapping my loaf of baking bread with another girl's when hers was rising and mine wasn't, not that this got me anywhere, because the rising loaf rose no further, deflating like a burst balloon once I'd slammed the oven door on it before I was spotted. I know now if you're going to slam an oven door on a loaf of bread, you might as well get the bread out and bounce up and down on it. I was a rookie cook then. As well as an idiot of a teenager.
I revelled in those lessons, though, in which I learned to make shortcrust pastry for pies, puff pastry for puffier pies, flaky pastry for pies and cream slices, and then choux pastry for eclairs. We pummelled and we shaped and we rolled and we folded and we lathered layers with butter ... Looking back, I don't know why Mrs Gough wasn't hauled in by the Health & Safety Inspectorate and prosecuted for endangering the lives of her vulnerable fifteen-year-old students. Mrs Gough is probably costing the NHS about £37m per year, right now.
With a basket chock-full with eclairs or fruit pies or a mis-shapen but aromatic beef pasty, I would leave the Domestic Science room and get on the bus home. 'Make sure your family gets some of these, girls,' Mrs Gough would warn us as we left. But on those days the other kids on the bus got promoted to Family as we all gorged ourselves on the products of the lesson, pastry everywhere like confetti cholesterol, the bus driver yelling, 'Oi! If I'd wanted to cover the floor of the bus, I'd have got myself some bloody carpet!'
|'What do you mean, they cancelled Domestic Science?'|
I'm guessing I don't need to tell you what one of my New Year resolutions ISN'T.