CORNISH PASTY AND IT'S WORKING CLASS LOYALTY
A turnover shaped baked shortcrust pastry, the Cornish Pasty is filled with beef and vegetables making it a protein packed meal and not just a regular baked good. The Cornish Pasty deeply identifies with its geographical location from where it was said to be conceived, Cornwall. A geographical identification so strong that the pasties were given a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) along with a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.
The status conferred specific requirements for their preparation to be commercial and distributed. Some of them being that it must bear the name “Cornish Pasty” and nothing else, they have to be made in Cornwall, they can only contain beef, potato, Swede (rutabaga), onion, salt and pepper. No other meat, no other vegetables, no other seasonings are allowed in the preparation. Another significant identification of Cornish Pasties are its distinctive crimping in the edges that is meant to seal the meat filling and the vegetables.
The ingredients of a Cornish pasty must be raw when they are being assembled and it is then slowly baked to create the traditional Cornish pasty texture and flavour. Any experimenting with the conventional recipe may actually incur you a fine! However, we can assure you the conventional recipe is just as good and enough for you to love these pasties and bring them to the food table every occasion you find.
The Cornish Pasty has been conceived in the historic county of Southwest England, Cornwall. The conception can be dated back to as far as the 1200s and when mining was an occupational rage in the county. The specific shape of the Cornish Pasty, one with crimped edges, has a certain romantic history to it. It is said that the miners’ wives used to crimp the edge in the preparation of these pasties to make the edge act as a handle for the miners to hold on to while eating them inside the underground mines. This ensured they could easily feast on the meaty, veggie filling of the pasty while holding onto the pasty by the edge and later discarding it.
The miners’ hand would be dipped in arsenic from being in the mine ground for long hours thus, making sanitation and food hygiene a concern for their wives and mothers. It is also widely believed that the crust edges were not really discarded or wasted since the ‘ghosts’ or ‘knockers’ residing the mines satiated their hunger too! It was a tradition to fill the pasties with different fillings at either end. One end would be filled with meat and vegetables while the other end would have a sweet filling. The sweeter end would be marked with an initial for the miner to know which side to gorge on first.
One can easily connect Cornish Pasties’ humble roots with the working class and why it was so loved by them. Easy to carry, hold and consumed without a cutlery in the hand made Cornish pasties a convenient meal to carry to the worksite. With the Cornish miners migrating to Michigan’s upper Peninsula for copper mining carried on the tradition bringing these pasties with them for their lunch.
In a mine, the pasty’s dense, folded pastry could stay warm for several hours, and if it did get cold, it could easily be warmed on a shovel over a candle. In recent times, Cornish pasties are filled with steak, potatoes, swede (rutabaga) and onions, but the recipe still retains the staple spirit of its ancestral recipe, one that is meant to fill bellies!