History Of The Cornish Pasty

History Of The Cornish Pasty

History Of The Cornish Pasty

Pasties date back as far as the 13th century, at which time they were devoured by the rich upper classes and royalty. The fillings were varied and indulgent, often containing venison, beef, lamb and seafood like eels, flavoured with rich gravies and fruits.

It was in the 1700s & 1800s that pasties became popular with working class families in Cornwall but they no longer contained the rich and decadent fillings of the 13th century, instead, they consisted of a simple short crust pastry case with potato, swede and onion, all common vegetables, and occasionally some cheap pieces of meat if available. This is how the humble pasty was born.

Chopped Swede Proper Cornish
Wheel Coates Mine Engine House By The Sea In Cornwall Pixabay Image: g48ae4d37d_1280

As mining boomed in Cornwall, pasties became a go-to meal for the miners’ crib breaks; they were an all-in-one meal that could be taken down the mines and eaten without cutlery. The wives of Cornish miners would lovingly prepare these all-in-one meals to provide sustenance for their spouses. Sometimes, fruit was cooked into one end of the pasty to provide a sweet treat at the end of their meal (these were known as “tinners” pasties). A miner’s wife would carve her husband’s initials into his Cornish pasty, so that he was able to distinguish his from all the others (how cute is that!)

A good pasty could even survive being dropped down a mine shaft! The crust (crimp) served as a ‘handle’ – a means of holding the pasty with dirty hands without contaminating the meal. Arsenic commonly accompanies tin within the ore that they were mining so, to avoid arsenic poisoning, the crimp was an essential part of the pasty.

Oggy, Oggy, Oggy

In the Cornish language, a Cornish pasty is known as an “Oggy”. When the Cornish pasties were finished cooking and ready to be eaten, the wives would go to the mineshaft and shout down: “Oggy, oggy, oggy!”, and the men would shout back “Oi, oi, oi!” to let them know the pasties were on their way.