Friday, 23 October 2015

Feeling Fidgetty

fidgetty phil poem

As a child, if I wriggled about, especially at the meal table, Mum would say “Fidgetty Phil who couldn’t sit still!” It weas a line from a poem in the 1845 book Struwelpeter, which begins thus…Let me see if Philip can
Be a little gentleman;
Let me see if he is able
To sit still for once at table:'
Thus Papa bade Phil behave;
And Mamma looked very grave.
But fidgety Phil,
He won't sit still;
He wriggles, and giggles,
And then, I declare,
Swings backwards and forwards,
And tilts up his chair,
Just like any rocking-horse-
'Philip! I am getting cross!'

Fidget means make small movements, especially of the hands and feet, through nervousness or impatience. It should not be confused with fidget pie which is a different thing altogether. There are various recipes for this dish throughout the Midlands and East Anglia – Huntingdon, Shropshire and Market Harborough all lay claim to it. My recipe is from Delia Smith’s Frugal Food, where she acknowledges that there are many variations on the basic pie.

The ingredients are simply chopped bacon pieces, finely sliced onion, potatoes and apples. Mix these, or put into separate layers, in a pie dish. Pour over water, or sweet cider, season with pepper and a few sage leaves. Top with a pastry crust and bake.


My pastry wasn’t Paul-Hollywood-Perfect in appearance, but it tasted fine. It is believed that this was traditional fare served cold to harvest workers. We had ours hot with gravy!

The unusual name has got nothing to do with the cook fidgeting. There are several theories about the origin of the name - either that it's to do with the shape of the pie, fitched meaning five sided,  others think that it was due to the way the ingredients fidget around in the pastry case when it is baked, and some say that it’s a corruption of fitchett, the old country name for a young polecat because it smelled quite unpleasant while cooking. Mine smelt fine in the oven. Making it five sided sounds too complicated though!

When I mentioned my pie to the people at the Lunch Club at Church, they hadn’t heard of it. I guess this being the South West, they are all Pasty-People!!


  1. I'm a fidgety adult. I've been sent out of the room before when my wife was trying watch tv. I like the sound of fidgety pie.

  2. You always teach me something new! When you mentioned the origin of fidget, I wondered about the name Stanstead Mount Fitchett-is it a 5sided mount or a Mount with a polecat issue???

  3. How interesting! I've not heard of fidget pie, before this. Enjoyed reading the poem. :)


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