Blog for and by students and staff in the English section of the University of Namur's Department of Germanic languages...
Monday, May 16, 2016
The history and superstitions
Pasties have existed in England since the 13th century. Before, it was one of the upper class' and royalty's favourite dish. There are many sorts of filling, such as venison, beef, lamb, seaford with eels, salmon. However, it is only between the 18th and the 19th century that Cornish pasty appeared. It was eaten by the miners who worked In Cornwall's tin and copper mines. Moreover, they needed this kind of dish to be able to work hard during the whole day. In those very same centuries, meat was scarce. Thus, they put more vegetables. Carrot was a ''mark of an inferior pasty''.
It is said that ''it is bad luck for fishermen to take Cornish pasties to sea'' ; that the Devil would be frightened by becoming a ''filling of a Cornish pasty'' if he crossed the River Tamar in Cornwall.
The Cornish Pasty Association
It has been created by a group of Cornish pasties producers concerned by the fact that there was a number of products called «Cornish pasty» being sold across the country. Despite the fact that they had no resemblance to the original thing. Since 2011, the Association administers the ''Protected Geographical Designation'', granted by the EU. Thus, pasties that are made somewhere else than in Cornwall cannot be called “Cornish” pasties anymore.
Cornish pasty industry is very important for local farmers. Cornwall is known to grown the main ingredients contained in the Cornish pasty recipe such as potatoes, swede turnip, onions. More than 120 million pasties are produced every year. Today, it is easy to find a Cornish Pasty because they are made in small and large bakeries or factories and then distributed to a variety of locations, from Cornwall shops to supermarkets.
Here are the ingredients to make a Cornish Pasty. For the shortcrust, we need 450g of flour, 125g of lard and unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon of salt and 125ml of cold water. For the filling, we need 300g of diced beef skirt (or lamb), 450g of diced potato, 150g of diced swede and sliced onion, 1 beaten egg, salt and pepper. For the pastry: rub the butter, lard and a pinch of salt into flour. Add water and bring the mixture together until the pastry becomes elastic. Then, put it in a cling film and put it to the fridge for an hour. For the filling: roll out the pastry and cut into circles. Put the vegetables and the meat on the pastry, add the seasoning. Then, brush the border of the pastry with the beaten egg. Meet both sides at the top, then pinch them together to seal. Glaze the whole pasty with a beaten egg. After all, bake in oven at 200°C during 50 minutes.
The origins of the Cornish pasty are unclear. Moreover, it is popular world-wide due to the spread of Cornish miners, and we can find variations in Australia, the United States, Argentina, Mexico, Ulster...