Photograph: Zhang Rufeng Xinhua Barcroft Images Photograph: Zhang Rufeng Xinhua Barcroft Images - ImagesGram

Photograph: Zhang Rufeng Xinhua Barcroft Images

A ruddy shelduck overtakes a flock of bar-head geese as they fly over a wetland in Nyima county, south-west China’s Tibet autonomous region.
Getting too analytical about our food is never a good idea. Eating is a visceral business, or at least should be. There is nothing better calculated to deaden the appetite and dry the tongue than attempting to intellectualise dinner. Then again, some culinary items can handle a little nerdy unpacking, and none more so than the pie.

Since then it has embedded itself in the culture. Like miserable weather and poorly managed industrial decline, pies are always with us, but are also the remedy to both. The pie is a metaphor waiting to happen – surely life is nothing but an endless struggle for a big enough slice – and a willing plot point.
Pies are eager to please. They are sweet and savoury. They are crisp and soft. They can be a way of using up the cheapest of ingredients, stewed down and seasoned, their modesty hidden from view by a gorgeous glazed crust. They can be a luxury item, layered with the finest of game. They are portable, on to the football terraces or, in the case of a pasty – just another pie, only with more curves – down a Cornish tin mine. In a country which is meant to agonise over its fast food habit,
Photograph: Zhang Rufeng/Xinhua / Barcroft Images.