A cold day in Summer back in the years when the weather was damper, more predictable with seasons following regular patterns – Autumn mists and fog, Winter wet, cold, periods of ice and snow, Spring usually took its time coming, then the glories of a British Summer – if we were lucky!
I remember Cornish pasties on the beach being the saving grace of Cornwall on those cold days ... or when we went with family and friends to the Minack Theatre on the cliffs overlooking the glassy sea, hearing the waves lap below.
Our marrow bones would soon start to feel the sea wind chill, our ‘silly bottoms’ would get the full clout from the earth below – those were the days of a hewn-out theatre ... no flat seats ... just rocks protruding arena like – where we laid rugs, cushions and padded ourselves as best we could against the sharp granite.
|The Minack as it is today!|
Picnic baskets would be uncovered, paper mugs of drink would be passed around, out would come X number of Cornish pasties, each well wrapped in a tea-towel ... greedy paws reaching out for the greaseproof paper bag wrapped Pasty – no waste here.
Let the show begin ... as we strained to catch the actors’ voices above the squawking seagulls wheeling around the cliffs, perhaps some Red-billed Choughs – the Cornish emblematic bird, the gusts of wind, the gentle crashing of the waves below ...
|Red Billed Choughs|
This is the Cornwall of our childhood .... though I have many memories of sitting in warmer situations eagerly anticipating the extraction of my Pasty from the Aga, put on the wire rack - its stronger aroma now wafting around the kitchen – and waiting, none too patiently, for it to cool sufficiently before I could tuck in!
Pasties: filled with finely chopped beef skirt and onions, small diced potato and swede-turnip, sprinkled with salt and pepper, a dab of butter – the pastry edges brushed with beaten egg, pulled up and pinched together on the top – a hole punched in the middle to let the steam out, placed on a baking tray and baked in a moderate oven for 50 minutes or so ... til golden brown, and steaming hot ... remove, leave to cool for five minutes.
Robert Morton Nance (born 1873 - 1959) wrote a ballad in 1898 ...
“The Merry Ballad of the Cornish Pasty”
Let all the World say what it can
Still I hold by the Cornishman
And that one most especially
That first found out the Cornish Pasty.
The Cornish Pasty ballad is not his true claim to fame!
Nance returned to Cornwall living high on the moor in the village of Nancledra halfway across the Penwith peninsula from St Ives to Penzance – well trodden and driven by our family – where he wrote and refined his books on the Cornish language, including a dictionary, which remain as standard reference works to this day.
The World Pasty Championships are being held at The Eden Project this weekend ... the protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status in Europe, means that no-one can sell a product called a Cornish Pasty unless it has been made in Cornwall.
The trouble is – in my humble opinion – they granted the wrong ‘crimping’ style as the definitive method ... Cornish Pasties must be crimped on top – as I describe above ... but home-made is an absolute essential.
|The Biomes and Link Building|
showing the "Field of Light"
installation by Bruce Munro
St Piran, the patron Saint of Tin Miners, would turn in his grave ... his Saint’s Day is tomorrow ... in fact if he saw the latest Pasty haute cuisine ... he’d be burrowing further into his Dune grave: the sands encroached and his oratory was abandoned in the 10th century.
Some of the Pasty delicacies on offer at The Eden Project ...
· Wild rabbit poached in cider with leeks, finished with peas and lemon zest?
· Cornish Yarg (cheese), cream cheese, black trumpet and king oyster mushroom Pasty?
· Fruits of the forest Pasty with squirrel and rabbit meat, wild mushrooms, native nuts and herbs?
· Steak and Cornish Blue Cheese Pasty with beef, potato and onion?
Just sometimes I prefer the simple original version ... my friends always drool at the thought of my home-made pasties ... while I spent years drooling over my mother’s pasties – now she was a brilliant cook.
Some tips ... pastry: Work your pastry well, almost kneading it, and then leave to chill in the fridge before thinking about rolling it out. You shouldn’t need to use flour when rolling out your pastry .... if you do (guilty as charged!) – it suggests you haven’t worked it well enough so it may break when you come to the crimping.
Now – the extra bite: Add a dab of clotted cream on top of your ingredients to help the gravy taste sweet and delicious .... now that I might try – as we’d almost certainly have Cornish Cream and some delicious sweet!
|The Pasty boys|
The dual Pasty – savoury one end, sweet the other – probably occurred as the peripatetic habits of the Cornish miners spread across the globe, when their skills at mining became invaluable to the New World ...
I still prefer my Mummy’s version! She would be very pleased to know I think that ... we’re nearing our English Mothering Sunday – next week ... ours is linked to Easter Day and its liturgical origins.
A fun childhood rhyme from the 1940s:
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, ate a Pasty five feet long,
Bit it once, bit it twice, Oh my Lord, it’s full of mice!!
So on this chilly, rainy Sunday – I’ll leave you with the comment that I’d very much like a traditional Pasty for my lunch – and then I could have a snooze! Good idea?
Talking about comments – does anyone get comments back from Blogger blogs? I feel I’ve been thrust out to sea without a paddle – no communication whatsoever ... if you leave a comment here – do you know about it .. and if you do – are you a Blogger blogger or a WP blogger? And any other useful helpful information you can offer me/us - like are you using the new interface? Thanks very much!
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