It struck me when I was working in the store the other day that on this ‘side of the pond’ not everyone knows what a pasty is, and that perhaps I should remedy that.
The Cornish pasty – pronounced “pah stee” not “pay stee” – could be considered the original fast food. Named after its origins in Cornwall, England, it is a form of meat pie or turnover: put simply, pastry folded over a filling.
It is a truly functional food, perfectly designed for it’s purpose as a complete, portable meal requiring no plate or cutlery. A meal that can be carried to work and eaten in the hand, to be taken down the mine, to sea, or to the fields.
The generally accepted origin of the pasty claims that they were originally made as lunch for Cornish tin miners who were unable to return to the surface to eat, covered in dirt from head to foot, they could hold the pasty by the folded crust and eat the rest without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry. The pastry they threw away was supposed to appease the ‘knockers’, capricious spirits in the mines who might otherwise lead miners into danger.
Today, you can find pasties in pubs, bakeries and specialist pasty shops across Britain. They are also popular in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the USA. While the traditional recipe includes diced or sliced steak, onions and potatoes, there are no completely standard ingredients, and now many other varieties have become popular including ‘Pork & Apple’, ‘Lamb & Mint’ and ‘Steak & Ale’.
An application has been submitted to gain Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for the Cornish pasty. If PGI status is granted to the Cornish pasty, as has been granted to Champagne, Parma Ham, Stilton Cheese, and many other items of regional produce, it would mean that only pasty makers based in Cornwall who make in a traditional manner and follow a traditional recipe will be able to label their products as Cornish pasties.
Whatever they are called we will continue to supply delicious pasties to the Ottawa area! So why don’t you pop in and pick one up for your lunch. Trust me you wont be disappointed.