The Cornish Pasty is a distinctive type of British savoury pie originating as its name suggests, in Cornwall, the south-westernmost county of England. A local (Cornish) name for pasties is ‘Oggie’.
Its origins go back to the tin mines that proliferated in Cornwall until the mid nineteenth century, and it is suggested that the pies were baked with pastry strong enough to survive a drop down a pit shaft to the miners below. The miners’ wives would bake (or have baked) the pasties for their husbands, often decorated with their husband’s initial, and then drop the pasty down the mine shaft at lunchtime.
The traditional filling of a Cornish Pasty comprises beef, potatoes, onion and turnip, seasoned with white pepper, although other varieties are produced. The pasty is produced by placing the filling on a circle of pastry, folded and crimped, much like a Calzone pizza.
Another style has the crimping across the top of the pasty, but equally robust.
Again, tradition has it that the miners would eat the pasty by holding the crimped crust, then having eaten the filling they would discard the crust – which would be contaminated by contact with their hands which would in turn be soiled with the tin ore.
These days the Cornish Pasty is seeking protected regional status, (much like Parma Ham and Champagne) ensuring that it is only made in Cornwall. A number of Cornish companies have started ‘exporting’ pasties from Cornwall to the rest of the UK and are now selling ‘authentic’ Cornish Pasties at railway stations and even airport terminals.
Pasties make a great fast food alternative to burgers and sandwiches.