2nd Runner-up goes to Michael Garcia’s Fox Sausage Pie.
Dear Men in Blazers,
Like many listeners of the pod, I was privileged to spend a semester during college studying abroad. And like many Americans before me, I couldn’t be bothered to learn a foreign language, so I quickly decided on England. And so, beginning in January 2010, I found my Southern California-raised self freezing my butt off in Leeds. Yet, not long after I had arrived, I was able to find a perfect cure for the cold, gray weather I was so unaccustomed to.
I had been walking from the university one day when I passed by the intoxicating smell of meat and puff pastry. I looked up at the blue sign on the building: Gregg’s. Curious and hungry, I walked in and saw shelves of pies and pasties and — what I soon would realize to be manna from heaven itself — sausage rolls. A quick 99p later and I was devouring two fresh, hot rolls of pastry-wrapped sausage.
Alas, when my time studying abroad was done, I came back to the States and carried on with my usual, boring, sausage-less life. I have long since craved the delectable combination of hot, flaky pastry and well-seasoned sausage, but found myself having to settle for sausage McMuffins and the like. But yesterday, I decided to settle no longer. Spurred by the Pukka Pies contest and in honor of the FA Cup match between Leeds United (my adopted club) and Manchester City yesterday morning, I decided to try my hand at baking. Hoping to come closer to the now nostalgic taste of a fresh sausage roll, I resolved to make what I call the Fox Sausage(!) Pie.
This being the first meat pie I had ever made, I thought I could use a little divine intervention to ensure a properly prepared pie. Thankfully, I knew just who to ask - Gus Johnson. And Lord Gus said unto the people: “Headed up and in! Ronaldo!” After a quick prayer for greatness, it came time to cut the all-important slits in the top crust. At a sudden loss for words or designs, I racked my brain for an answer. Do I carve out the city lines of Nacogdoches, Texas? Inscribe the crust with “Why Always Meat”? Monogram the pie with AVB? In the end, I came to a simple conclusion. I didn’t want my pie to rely on any fancy flourish or gimmick. Leave the bicycle kicks and backheels to the younger pies, I said. I was making a pie that would stand the test of time. I was making the Ryan Giggs of pies. Nothing fancy, just decades of goals. And so, with that in mind (and after a bit of a Gervinho’d execution), I carved the only word that any presentation should ever need. A simple message both inspiring and everlasting. A message of greatness.
Hoping for greatness, I decided to do whatever I could to steer my sausage pie towards success. So, like an overzealous pregnant woman playing Beethoven and Mozart with headphones near her womb, I brought my laptop near the oven and replayed the recent Champions League (*cue theme*) debut of Fox Soccer’s own Lord and Savior, Gus Johnson. As his powerful calling of the game, interspersed with Sir Martin Tyler-approved crowd noises, wafted through to my gestating pie, a single tear of joy may or may not have rolled across my cheek as I envisioned the future success of my pie, perhaps someday finding itself on the plate of such luminaries as Sir Ian Darke or Eric Wynalda. Thirty minutes later, the pie came out a nice golden-brown and smelling of my finest memories in Leeds.
As I delved into my flaky, savory pie, I was reminded of the great times I had in England and of the happiness that a single, humble pie can deliver to masses. I dug my fork through the cheesy mash top layer and through to the savory sausage underneath, and a smile of satisfaction crept across my face. The day may not have been a success for Leeds United (0-4 loss, ouch), but it was a success for pies around the world. I gave it the double-handed wanker sign of approval.