Friday 19 November 2010

British Stuffs Review: Pasties

If you are like me when first coming to England, you may be thinking "pasties?! why is she reviewing nipple coverings?".   Don't worry - I'm not.

In this instance, pasties is the plural of pasty, pronounced past-ey rather than paste-ey.   (However, if this clarification has disapointed you and you are in the market for some nipple pasties, take a gander here.) But on to the real pasty (past-ey)... The best way I can describe a pasty to someone who has not yet had one  is that they are very similar to a calzone in that it is a semi-circle shaped pastry with filling inside.  You know, like a pizza thats been folded up on it's self.

Traditional Cornish Pasty
 We'll talk fillings in a moment, but first, some history:  According to Wikipedia: "Tradition claims that the pasty was originally made as lunch ('croust' or 'crib' in the Cornish language) for Cornish tin miners who were unable to return to the surface to eat. The story goes that, covered in dirt from head to foot (including some arsenic often found with tin), they could hold the pasty by the folded crust and eat the rest without touching it, discarding the dirty pastry. The pastry they threw away was supposed to appease the knockers, capricious spirits in the mines who might otherwise lead miners into danger. Pasties were also popular with farmers and labourers, particularly in the North East of England, also a mining region."  Thank you, Wikipedia.

As we discussed previously with Stilton cheese, certain foods which have strong roots in a certain geographical area can be granted what is called  Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.  In 2002, the Cornish Pasty Association applied for such status for the Cornish Pasty and are still waiting for a response from the European Commission.  If PGI status is granted, it would mean only pasty manufacturers who are based in Cornwall and who follow the traditional method and recipie would legally be able to call their products Cornish pasties.

Outside Cornwall, you can get a pasty filled with just about anything, but the ingredients are usually hearty choices such as meats and potatoes (although many versions of vegetarian pasties are readily available as well).  Don't tell the purists at the Cornish Pasty Association, but I even spotted a Christmas Dinner pasty at Waitrose this week!

As you can probably guess, the best way to eat a pasty is on the go.  In the car, on the train, on the Tube, while walking... the perfect pastry casing saves your shirt or lap from a yummy filling mess.

Want a fancy pasty?  I suppose you could put in our your finest china and eat with knife and fork, but that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?

British Stuffs Rating: 4/5 Paddington Bears

Christmas Sushi?
  ... and in kinda-related-but-not-interesting-enough-for-its-own-post news:  YO! Sushi has unveiled their Christmas dishes, including a full YO! Sushi style Christmas dinner Turkey Katsu, sage & onion stuffing sushi roll; a twist on Devils on Horseback featuring dates wrapped in streaky bacon (pictured) alongside a red current jelly dip and a tasty Mince Pie Mochi: a delicious rice cake filled with festive mince pie and white chocolate ganache.  I've not tried any of these merriments, but feel safe to classify this as EW! Sushi.  No thanks.


  1. I find them to be really similar to a Chilean empanada. They are super yummy and so easy to pick up on the go at a train station. Now if I can just remember how to say it properly :)

    Have a great weekend :)

  2. Someone else mentioned the similarity to an empanada last night..I do gave to admit the only empanada I've ever had is from Taco Bell, so I'm very unqualified to say anything about them, but apparently the only difference between an empanada and a pasty is that the insides of a pasty are raw when they are wrapped in pastry abs then cooked inside and an empanada is filled with pre-cooked ingredients.

  3. Christmas sushi? I'm with you on this one - no thanks!