British foodstuff, originally developed for the tin
s of Cornwall in the far southwest
of the country. A pasty
consists of a circle
filled with meat
s which is then folded over to form a filled
Like other traditional British foods such as
shepherds pie these would be made the night before using local
ingredients, and were handily self-contained so that they could be
taken to work in the morning and eaten later on. A proper Cornish
Pasty will have a very thick crust along the joined edge where the
two halves of the pastry were joined together: this is because tin
extraction used to require handling arsenic, and the miners used to
hold the pasty by the crust and eat the filling, then throw away the
arsenic-contaminated crust afterwards.
I'd never had a Cornish Pasty until last year. Of course I'd thought
that I had, after all, you can buy Cornish Pasties in any
newsagents or corner shop across
Britain, and most chip shops will happily sell you
pasty and chips. Then I went to Penzance in Cornwall and bought a
pasty from one of the shops there. The pasties I was used to were filled
with a greyish-brown unidentified "meat" and filled out with large
amounts of carrot, potato and swede. The pasty I bought in Cornwall
had large 3/4" cubes of the finest, most tender steak
imaginable, supplemented by a tasty gravy and real fresh
vegetables. Most definitely a meal unto itself, and unless you've eaten
a pasty from a small local bakery in Cornwall, you've never eaten one!
I think this experience ties in a little with a tale that Bill Bryson
tells in his book about the United States, "
The Lost Continent". He mentions a region of the northern
US (Michigan perhaps, although I'm afraid I don't fully remember)
where they sell pasties. When he bought one and the shopkeeper found out
he'd spent time in Britain and had tasted real Cornish pasties, the
shopkeeper was overjoyed: at last here was someone who could tell him
whether or not his pasties were true to the original recipe.
Apparently they were, although Bryson relates that he'd spent so much
time back in America that his taste buds had become jaded to anything
not packed with artificial sweeteners and flavourings.
One final point, "pasty" is pronounced so as to rhyme with "mass tea",
ie a short "a". It doesn't rhyme
with tasty or pastry, despite the fact that if it did you could derive
some good limericks...