PROTECTING THE CORNISH PASTY
PUBLISHED: 15:56 27 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:20 30 August 2017
Cornish pasties are synonymous with the county and now they are protected - so only a pasty made in Cornwall can be called Cornish
Columnist RUTH HUXLEY, Managing Director of Cornwall Food and Drink, explains why food designation is so important
This month the not so humble pasty receives global attention as the World Pasty Championships return to the Eden Project for a second year. And what better way of celebrating Cornwall's most iconic food? Last year's inaugural event captured the imagination of pasty lovers across the world and brought a smile to many peoples faces when it was announced that one of the winners was none other than a Mr Cornish. You'd think it was a fix wouldn't you? But having been one of the judges, I can guarantee the whole competition was judged anonymously and his win was just one of those delicious coincidences that happen from time to time.
I can't help wondering why on earth no-one thought of holding a World Pasty Championship before (and am even a bit annoyed that I didn't think of it myself!). Thanks to the Cousin Jacks, who took the pasty recipe along with their mining skills all over the world with them to suit local ingredients and climates, pasties or their variants are now enjoyed on at least four continents a fine thing for Cornwall to celebrate in style.
But while all the weird and wonderful variants can be entered in the open classes of the championships, it's the traditional Cornish pasty category that is the most hotly contested. Thanks to the Cornish pasty being granted special protected status by the EU in 2011, what makes a pasty a genuine Cornish pasty is now well defined and any pasties entered into this category need to conform to these rules. Above all, the rules state that a genuine Cornish pasty can only be made in Cornwall, and special attention needs to be paid to the pastry, the crimp, the shape and, of course, the filling.
You may be wondering if this is all really necessary. EU red tape to tell us what is and isn't a Cornish pasty? Surely everyone knows what a real Cornish pasty is - and what difference does it make anyway? Actually, it makes a lot of difference. Before the ruling, pasty makers could put anything they liked into a pastry disc, seal it up, pop it in the oven, and call it a Cornish pasty. Not only did this mean that the distinctiveness of the real Cornish pasty was being diluted but food manufacturers outside Cornwall could trade off the name while offering an inferior product.
Compared with the 15 million that the Cornish Pasty Association estimates pasty makers in Cornwall pay Cornish farmers each year for beef and vegetables, along with the 13,000 Cornish jobs that Cornwall Council estimates could be related to pasty production and sales, you begin to see that what could so easily be regarded as bureaucratic nonsense does put real value and recognition into Cornwall. We should be very proud that the genuine Cornish pasty has made it onto a list of just 50 products from the UK that have been given protected status.
Long live the genuine Cornish pasty and long live the World Pasty Championships!