If there’s a mine, there’ll be a Cornishman! If there’s a Cornishman, there’ll be a pasty!
These Cornish tin miners, couldn’t come up for dinner, so their wives cooked their dinner in a pastry coating: food would stay warm longer, down the mine. And now comes the special bit: one end was filled with meat and the last end was a sweet filling, nobody needed a fork or a knife to eat. They could start eating their pasty on one side and work their way up to dessert. Provided in that one pasty was a chunky dinner and pudding, all in one bundle, one big packet, sheltered from the dust.
My husband comes from a family of coal miners. He himself only went down one day, to see what it was like, but didn’t fancy working there. His mum’s parents came from Newcastle (England) and came down to Kent, to open a new coalmine, because nobody local knew coalmining. Hurston, near Canterbury, was built to relocate new villagers to run the pits in Kent, it was a town built, just for miners. It was a tight community that even tried to fiddle with their electricity bill in order not to pay. Bypassing the meters in the boxes and a watching out for the electric man, when he came to read the meters, was a normal activity in those days.
His dad’s parents lived in Deal in Kent, near the only coalmine in Kent and the whole family worked there. Every year each mine had a big party, mainly for the kids, miners all came together for a great big drink up and played games against one another (tug a war: rope pulling in teams). I love hearing him tell about his granddad with his Jackdaw, that used to follow him on his way to the pit, sitting on his shoulders and waiting for him to come out again at the end of the shift. He stole all his wife’s jewels, which were luckily found back, by accident, in the gutters of their house!
So having the coalmining in his genes, I suppose the love for pies was transmitted as well. How to explain to you that phrase of delight: “Ah a Cornish pasty!” It is nowadays virtually made in the same way as the old days, helped by a machine: a filling of beef, diced potatoes, swede, pepper and salt, wrapped and sealed in a baked, D-shaped, flat pastry with crimping round the edge. In the old times it was (and some people still make them that way) a handmade round pastry, with filling put in the middle, with a pastry separation between the main meal and the pudding, folded over the top and crimped by fingers.
Great was my surprise to find as many pasty shops in England, as we have chips’ shops in Belgium. Luckily for me, you can now find the vegetarian alternatives and believe me they are tasty!
Can’t help it but the French are here again: Medieval French is the linguistic base of the word “pasty”. But as far as I know, the recipe is really protected and well guarded by the proud Cornish. My husband, when having a blast from the past, would say: “Ah, nothing but a good savory pasty, some good, old Cornish food!” Only old fishermen consider them bad luck! So are you getting hungry? I am now! Have you got some typical food, past on by history, in your country that makes you proud to belong to your nation? Do share some of your delicious recipes!
Always willing to learn, your
Wrapping it up.