The Cornish Pasty started life as the working lunch for the tin miners to take underground with them. The pasty was easy to carry, could be eaten with dirty fingers, was nourishing. And could even have savoury at one end and sweet at the other.
The underground miner would not return to the surface or be able to clean his hands when he paused for a lunch break. An added danger was that arsenic wasoften found with tin, so that might be on his hands), they could hold the folded crust and eat the filling, then throw away the dirty pastry. Another tradition believes that it is bad luck for fishermen to take pasties to sea.
The Cornish pasty's dense, folded pastry stayed hot until lunchtime. Traditional bakers in former mining towns, until fairly recently, would bake pasties with fillings to order, marking the customer's initials with raised pastry. This was originally done because the miners used to eat one half of their pasty for breakfast and leave the remaining half for lunch, meaning that a way to identify their pasties, from the other miners', was needed.
For centuries the Cornish have been filling pasties with a wide variety of fillings. In 1985 a group of Young Farmers in Cornwall spent 7 hours making a record-breaking pasty - over 32ft long. This was believed to have been beaten in 1999 when bakers in Falmouth made their own giant pasty during the town's first ever pasty festival.
Although the "traditional" pasty was made from beef, potatoes, onions and turnips, nevertheless the pasty was and is made from a variety of ingredients. The "tiddy oggie" is filled only with potatoes, and you will come across ones with anything from rabbit to egg and bacon or cheese.
Unfortunately the Cornish Pasty has become over commercialised here. The market is not prepared to pay the price of a decent pasty, and hence has become flooded with cheap pasties for a mass tourist market that demand nothing better.
For a decent pasty, I would like to recomend St Martins Bakery. Alongside an extensive range of locally sourced Organic Breads, Pies, Tarts, Quiches and Cakes they also produce a very good Cornish pasty. Made with Local Organic Potato, Swede, Turnip, Onion and of course Tresco Organic Beef. Check out their web at www.stmartinsbakery.co.uk Voted Best food retailer 2002 by the BBC at the Good Food Show.
Other sellers of Cornish Pasties are:
West Cornwall Pasty Co
Cornish Pastie Co in Arizona.
The Pasty Bakery of St Ives Cornwall
Cornish Pasty in the USA If you want an American Pasty
A typical recipe for two would be:-
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