Friday, December 16, 2005

Wigan - Town of High Culture!

I live in a medium sized town in Lancashire called Wigan. This is a no-nonsense, down-to-earth sort of place that takes now't from now't. Now-a-days, it has 2 main claims to fame, Uncle Joe's Mint Balls and Pies! In fact Wigan is the self-proclaimed capital of pie-making.

Yesterday, Wigan held the first ever world pie-eating championships (we take culture very seriously here), - but ended up having to eat humble pie. When it came to the selection of competition standard pies, the judges (what do they know), following a blind tasting, went for meat and potato pies made in the nearby town, - and arch rival, - of Bolton! What a crushing insult! Too humiliating for words.

Anyway, this highly skilful complicated contest requires contestants to eat as many pies as they can in three minutes, and fortunately, Wigan was able to restore some pride when local man, Anthony 'The Anaconda' Danson was able to down seven pies in three minutes. After the competition, Wigan's latest World Champion said that he was feeling fine and looking fine (even if the pies did come from Bolton).

'Pie-eater' is a traditional nickname for people from Wigan, perhaps owing to the large number of pie shops found in the town. Helena Martin from Yesteryear Pub Company who sponsored the event said, "Choosing a non-Wigan pie caused some trouble, but in a blind tasting, the Bolton ones just tasted better." It won't happen next year!

There were strict rules for the tornament pies; they were not allowed to be too dry, soggy or crumbly; they each had to be 12cm across and 3.5cm deep with a pie wall angle of no more than 15 degrees. We take our pies seriously in this part of the world! Next year, both the winner and the pies will come from Wigan.


jane said...

I think 1 of the rules should be the pies do have to be made in Wigan. I'd be as fat as 3 wheelbarrels if I lived there. I love pie!
It would sure be interesting if you would write about the different types of pies someday. I've never tried a meat & potatos pie. I think here they call that a Shepherds Pie & I've never tried one of those either.
When I think of pie, I think chocolate, lemon, I'm hungry for pie!
Wigan sounds like a wonderful place to live.

Eddie said...

Hi Mark,
I wonder if you've heard of the alternative derivation of the phrase, "Pie Eater?" Supposedly, during the 1920's, possibly the General Strike, Wigan miners were "starved" back to work by the mine owners.The miners of Leigh stayed out longer and claimed that the Wigan men had been forced to, "eat humble pie," by going back to work first.
Hence the "Pie eaters," insult.
Personally I'm quite happy to believe the Bolton pies tasted better, I've thought for years that the St Helens,(Pimbletts'),pie tasted better than anything Wigan could supply!

Mark said...

Yes Eddie, a friend Iwas talking to this weekend gave me that version, and I feel there is more than an element of truth about it. However, I have to disagree about the pies. Those I regularly get from the market are absolutely fabulous. Light pastry filled with beautifully seasoned pork with the meat juices sealing them in. No, I think you have to go a lot further than Bolton or St Helens to beat a proper Wigan pie!

Jane, I've lived in a few places in my time, but I beleive I've found the place I feel most at home. Like all places, it has its faults and cons, but the people are generally down to earth, no airs or graces, the countryside is breathtaking, and if I need a larger town we have Manchester and Liverpool on the doorstep. All in all, not a bad place to live.

Jackie said...

I'm a bit partial to cheese and onion myself.. where would we be without pies.. just perfect food for travel, picnic or work. i've never tasted a Wigan pie .. a delight yet to come!!