The Cornish pasty has deservedly assumed a starring role in England’s culinary Heritage, as popular today as it was in the 13th Century when evidence of its appearance was first documented.
The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that the term ‘pasty’ was identified in around 1300. The pasty became commonplace in the 16th and 17th centuries and attained its Cornish identity over the last 200 years. By the 18th century it was firmly established as a Cornish food eaten by poorer working families who could only afford cheap ingredients such as potatoes, swede and onion. Meat was added later. Today, it is a meal of choice bought by rushing commuters and leisurely shoppers – outlets for this delicacy can be found on most high streets!
Evidence of the Cornish pasty as a traditional Cornish food can be found in Worgan’s agricultural survey of Cornwall of 1808. In the 1860s records show that children employed in mines regularly took pasties with them as part of their crib or croust (local dialect for snack or lunch).
By the end of the 18th century it was the staple diet of working men across Cornwall. Miners and farm workers took this portable and easy to eat food with them to work because it was so well suited to the purpose. Easy to carry and hand sized, its pastry case insulated the contents and was durable enough to survive a workman’s knapsack, while its wholesome ingredients provided enough sustenance to see the workers through their long and arduous working days.
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