Saturday 25 October 2014

The Life of Pies - literally

Pierateer RAS joins the book launch of Martin Tarbuck’s “Life of Pies

I guess as a Pierateer it was inevitable that I would eventually be waking up in a Wigan hotel after a night out eating pies. But don’t worry – the only thing I was knocking back last night was a few tasty pies! (I prefer my ale in a steak and ale pie…)

Life of Pies Pie Review
Life of Pies book and... pies!
And to be fair, without anything outrageous happening (for example, no-one jumped out of a massive pie), the night did exactly what it said on the book cover. An evening of pies, with the pie man himself – Martin Tarbuck. And I was delighted to have the oppietunity to meet him!

For those who are new to hearing about Martin’s quest on “a journey of a lunchtime” and “in search of piefection” you might be wondering if there had been some compietition for a northern Pierateer that no-one else knew about. But you would in this instance be wrong, for it turns out there is actually someone else out there equally obsessed with golden pastry packages!

Having already released two books on football – particularly following the pies and lows of being a Wigan Athletic supporter – in January 2012 Martin took it upon himself to start recording the quality of pies in his neck of the woods, up North. At the time I don’t think even he could envision the creation of a book containing well over 100,000 words on pies up and down the country. And while it will take a while to read and review the actual book, here’s a little round up of the “Life of Pies” book launch in Wigan last night.

Life of Pies Pie Review - Martin
Life of Pies author Martin
Held in The Raven in central Wigan, the busy and buzzing pub atmosphere provided the ideal environment to chat with some fellow pie fans and meet the pie man himself Martin and his wife Emma. Yes – despite the banter at the start of the book – Martin has somehow managed to get Emma onside (or at least not veto-ing) the creation of this book on pies, which in and of itself is no mean feat! While it turns out he hasn’t managed to convert Emma into an obsessed pie fanatic too, you could tell that this was something they had both had a part to play in. After all, those long trips south to sample pies, the hours spent writing up and recording those pie scores while bringing up their young daughter and battling with fridges and freezers almost entirely filled with pies (I know that feeling…) are things done in partnership, which is why the thanks at the start of the book are clearly heartfelt and genuine.

Chatting to the pair, it was great to get an insight into pie life up North – and in particular the creation of this book. Starting with reviewing a few pies in the local area around his work place, Martin ended up travelling further and further afield and – as a result – had to get his other half on board with his “middle age obsession”. It does make me wonder why we Pierateers – all still in our 20s – have had such a similar quest. We can’t put it down to middle age. We can’t really put it down to the big pay cheques and glamourous lifestyle. It seems to simply come down to our love of pies and our quest – the same as Martin’s – for piefection!

Life of Pies Pie Review
Over 100 pies marked the occasion
It was of course inevitable that there had to be free pies available at the book launch, which were provided by Bowen Pies. Naturally you’ll be reading their pie review later this week but for now I can confirm that the pastry was pretty good – crisp without being dry, apart from a little round the crimped edges, and filled with good quality meat (particularly the steak pie) with the exception of the vegetarian butter pie. Find out what I thought of my first ever butter pie in the review later this week.

All in all it was a lovely evening, finally being able to speak eye-to-eye and pie-to-pie with another big pie rater, the likes of whom we have never met outside our Pierateer group. Of course we can only marvel at the amount of pies Martin has eaten – over 400 in just 2 years – when we have only rated about 440 between the 5 of us – but this book really is a testament to what you can pieduce if you pursue your passions and commit yourself to finding the perfect pie! Of course I won’t spoil the surpies of who is the number one pie rated by Martin. You’ll just have to buy it yourself online. But needless to say, this provides further inspieration – as if needed – for the Pierateers to continue their quest to find piefection also.


Pierate is a pie review website charting a course to find the ultimate pie. For all the pies we have reviewed have a look at our Pie Rankings or find pies of a particular flavour under Pies: Categorised.

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