To visit Cornwall and not eat a Cornish pasty is almost unfathomable. I remember many family holidays to Cornwall that were fueled almost entirely on pasties; I like Phillip Warrens Butchers in Launceston or Sarah's in Looe, but they are literally everywhere.
Cornwall and the pasty are inextricably linked and the baked good is definitively of this area. So much so that a pasty made outside of Cornwall is not deemed to be a "Cornish Pasty" at all and will absolutely not, in such circumstance, bear the hallowed name. A pasty should always include beef, swede, potato, and onion, but one sees plenty of controversial variations in shops along the Cornish coastlines now.
The pasty's history is long and its cultural context is deeply rooted in the history of Cornwall itself. During the 18th century, the pasty became popular with the working class people of Cornwall, particularly the tin miners. For the many thousands of miners of the tin mining boom in Cornwall at the time, the pasty was a uniquely complete meal that could be eaten without cutlery, carried easily into the mines, and would stay warm for several hours. Most importantly, the pasty could be held from its dense crimped crust, ensuring that the miners’ dirty hands, often awash with traces of arsenic from the mine, did not touch his food or mouth. The crust could be discarded and the rest of the pasty safely eaten.
Such endeavors are less relevant today but nonetheless the pasty remains a fundamental part of the Cornish cultural fabric. If one is to visit Cornwall, the pasty has to be integral to the culinary agenda.
Do you have a favorite pasty shop in Cornwall? Tell us in the comments below!