Have you ever wondered, when eating something, about its authenticity? Take the Cornish pasty, for example. You can get a pasty probably almost anywhere in the UK, but how much different might the genuine article taste in Cornwall itself? The Cornish pasty has an interesting history that ties it very much to a time and place, and it has a proud tradition that is carried on in how it is prepared and cooked.


The History of the Cornish Pasty

The Cornish pasty may well be one of the earliest convenience foods, designed to be portable, practical, and eaten away from home. The spread of its popularity arose from the growth of tin mining in Cornwall in the 19th century.

The pasty was an ideal shape to be taken down the mines as food for the workers, adults and children, who laboured there. One theory has it that the thick crust of the pasty was used as a handle for carrying it, and then thrown away once the bulk of the pasty had been eaten. This makes the Cornish pasty a kind of pioneering edible lunchbox.

The original pasties were designed to be an economic way of eating food, in the days when mining families would have been very poor. The contents were made up of vegetables only, including potato and swede. The addition of meat was a later addition. Recipes would have been family affairs, passed down from mother to daughter, which means that there probably is no definitive Cornish Pasty recipe.

Nowadays, it’s established that a genuine Cornish pasty should contain a minimum of 25% vegetables and 12.5% meat. The filling should only consist of the following: diced or minced beef, sliced or diced potato; swede and onion; and seasoning, mainly salt and pepper.

The pasty is slow-baked and it can consist of shortcrust, rough puff or puff pastry. Its distinctive D shape comes from the crimping of the pastry on one side. A Cornish pasty can only be known as such if it is produced west of the River Tamar, in the county of Cornwall. This is legally protected.


Where to Buy a Cornish Pasty?

Obviously when visiting Cornwall, the pasty is a mainstay of many a high-street baker, but just as obviously, you want to enjoy the very best quality pasties Cornwall can offer if you want to experience the genuine article.

The Cough Bakery in Padstow, the Crantock Bakery in Newquay, Crib Box in St Austell, Etherington’s in Redruth, Proper Cornish in Bodmin and St Agnes Bakery are just a few of the many places you can buy a genuine Cornish pasty.

Always look for the badges of the Cornish Pasty Association and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) when intending to buy.

You don’t have to go to Cornwall for a genuine Cornish pasty, but the right setting can only make the experience of eating one that much more enjoyable.