5 facts about the Cornish Pasty you didn’t know you needed to know…
So, last week I was asked to fly up to the London offices to give a ‘brief presentation on a subject matter of my choice’.
Meeting up with the London team always provides me with some amusement – it is a well known fact that to the young, professional, London scene – moving from London to Cornwall in your 20-somethings may seem as foreign as moving to Mars. Or Norfolk. To some people they think you’re on a perpetual gap year – to others it is the social suicide equivalent to moving back home with your parents. At 26. Which we actually had to do briefly to get to Cornwall in the first place.
My favourite questions from the London-born and bred have been – ‘What do you mean there isn’t a Zara?’ and ‘How can you survive without a Nandos?’. When I once replied to a question about the Cornish postal system with ‘We’ve been receiving mail a lot quicker since they stopped delivery by donkey this year’ – one person genuinely asked whether it was stopped because of a revision to animal cruelty policies. (Don’t worry, I don’t work in Politics, the health or finance sector…).
So, needless to say, I am familiar with the perception people might have of us living 15 minutes from Land’s End when they live just 15 minutes from one of the political and financial capitals of Europe. That being said, one of my favourite ways to entertain myself when with my London colleagues is to completely and wholeheartedly, embody the stereotype of the Cornish bumpkin. So, when asked to decide on a subject matter for the presentation – whilst others explored their daily working responsibilities over a selection of data driven slides, I naturally chose to present on …The Cornish Pasty.
So here, in the hopes of forever improving your pub knowledge repertoire – I present to you as I presented to them – 5 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Cornish Pasty:
The Origins of the Cornish Pasty:
Jane Seymour of ‘Henry-VIII-not-the-beheaded-one’ fame was a fan of the Cornish Pasty. Although nobody can put an exact date on when the Cornish Pasty originated, a letter from a baker to Henry VIII’s Jane Seymour, saying “…hope this Pasty reaches you in better condition than the last one …” proves that they were popular amongst the royals in the 16th century.
What ingredients are in a traditional Cornish Pasty?
…not fish! Surprisingly, in a region where the catching and consumption of fish has played such a large role in it’s historical and current culture – fish is not an acceptable filling for the traditional Cornish Pasty. In fact, a superstitious Cornish fisherman will refuse to take a Pasty on board their boat, preferring instead to leave it on shore for fear of bad luck.
What does go into a Pasty then?
Correct answer – well, everything. For years the Cornish have been filling their pasties with pretty much anything they can chop, dice and bake. This led to the tale that the Devil wouldn’t cross the Tamar River into Cornwall for fear of being turned into a pasty himself. We know that this isn’t a fact because he quite clearly designed the Chiverton Cross roundabout at the height of holiday traffic.
Typically a traditional Cornish Pasty will contain beef and potato, usually with slices of onion and swede and for it to be recognised as a true Cornish Pasty then it must be cooked from raw.
Why does the Pasty have a crust?
There are a great many theories on why the Pasty is designed the way it is but it seems logical that their shape was designed with practicality in mind. In our times they are the salvation to a weary lunch-breaker, comfort to the recently heart-broken-living-on-chick flicks-and-Alanis Morrisette and next day relief for the chronically hungover. Back in their conception however, the miners for whom they were made for needed something that could reheat easily and have a throw away handle crust to reduce risk of poisoning themselves with arsenic from the mines. Yummy.
The Cornish Pasty started the Oggy! Oggy! Oggy! Chant
Derived from it’s slang term Hoggan – ‘Oggy’ is the slang name for a Cornish Pasty. It is said that when the wives of the miners arrived with their partner’s pasty packed lunch, they would call down the mine ‘Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!’ to which the miners would reply ‘Oi! Oi! Oi!’.
This is a fact – it’s on Wikipedia and everything.
So there you have it, I hope your thirst for knowledge has been quenched and you are now sitting in the same dumbfounded silence I was met with when presenting this to the London Office. Want to challenge me to a Pasty-knowledge-off? Got some facts of your own stuffed up that pastry flake riddled sleeve? Then do get in touch via our Twitter, Facebook or Contact Page!