It’s one of the more entertaining British food point-counterpoints in quite some time: The BBC hails the Cornish pasty and its new, European Commission–granted protected status, while the Telegraph asks, “What’s the point of protecting Cornish pasties?”
Pasties (pronounced PASS-tees)—not to be confused with pasties (PASTE-ees)—are durable, highly caloric meat pies that traditionally served as lunch for Cornish miners (Midwesterners know them well—they made their way into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Minnesota’s Iron Range via Cornish mine foremen working in the late 19th and early 20th centuries).
The BBC reports: “From mid-March, only those pasties produced in Cornwall can be called Cornish. An authentic example should have a distinctive ‘D’ shape and be crimped, or folded into a rope-like pattern, on one side—never on top. … The rules also state that the filling needs to be ‘chunky,’ made up of ‘mince or chunks of beef with swede [rutabaga], potato and onion and a light seasoning.’ This is then wrapped in pastry glazed with milk or egg, and then slow-baked.”
The Telegraph responds: “On the rare occasions I’ve attempted to eat one, generally rather the worse for wear at a service station … I have always regretted it. All that pastry, heavy meat, swede and onion sits in your stomach like a, well, like a Cornish pasty.”
And, of course, the commenters got fired up, pointing out that service station pasties are not really state of the art, and noting, piquantly: “To be so patronising and condescending about it says more about your view of Cornwall and its people and our heritage than it does about the pasty.”