(Or What’s the Best Recipe for Fish Pie?)
Mark Lee Pearson
Imagine that you once ate a fish pie that tasted really bad. It was so bad that you told your friends, “I can make better fish pie than that.”
One friend says that he wants to make a fish pie someday, but really doesn’t have the time now.
Another friend says that she once tried to make a fish pie, but she didn’t quite manage to finish it. She decided to leave it in the cupboard because it wasn’t quite right.
You want to ask if her fish pie is still there, but you know by the crazed look in her eyes that it is, so you don’t.
You go home and look in the fridge. There’s a bit of cod and a jar of white sauce. You experiment with these ingredients, but when it comes out of the oven it doesn’t look as appetizing as you thought it would, so you trash it. The next day you make another and trash that one too. You repeat this process over and over again, until you get sick of trying. The refuse collector appears to be gaining weight.
You decide to go ahead and try to sell your fish pies. You do your research and discover that salmon in parsley sauce is popular. So you make a batch and set up a stall at the local market, but it appears that salmon is out and haddock is in. The girl on the stall opposite is making a fortune with her haddock in béchamel sauce.
You steal her recipe and go home to experiment. You emulate her fish pie and try it out on your grandmother. She says it’s the best fish pie she has ever tasted. You decide to set up another stall at the market, but the girl you stole the recipe off is there and hers look so much better than yours. She is making a fortune and the customers just turn their noses up at yours.
You go home and cry and tear up the stupid recipe and throw all your cooking utensils away. That night you have a dream. In the dream a time traveler comes to tell you that he has eaten your fish pie in the future and it was the best he ever tasted. He tells you that you must not give up making fish pie. The time traveler is hot and you wake up realizing that if you give up baking fish pies you will never meet your time traveling dreamboat again. You experiment and experiment and finally manage to create your own style of fish pie.
The next time you arrive at market it is clear that fish is out and meat is in. Against all the odds you set up your stall. A gourmand passes you by and you catch his eye. He says he loves your fish pies and he knows the world will love them and he will help you to sell your fish pies to the world. You sign a contract and celebrate together with a bottle of champagne. Unfortunately he dies in a car accident on the way home that very same night and your fish pie falls into obscurity.
You decide to give up making fish pies and write a novel about your experience. You send it off to a publisher and it gets...rejected.
After one-hundred rejections you decide to give it all up and return to university to get a degree in physics. There you meet a dreamboat who is writing his doctorate on The Practical Application of Time Travel. You are convinced you have seen him somewhere before, and you invite him to dinner at your apartment where you bake him a fish pie and tell him the story of your life.
This time you might just live happily ever after.