Heresy

Having read about my love for sausage rolls and the Greggs chain before, Loyal Readers will no doubt be waiting for my comment on the furious public reaction when Greggs recently decided to open a store in Cornwall:

The bakery chain Greggs has sparked fury after it opened its first branch in Cornwall – but it won’t be selling its own version of the famous Cornish pasty.
Workers have said the store feared its crimped on top ‘the Devon way’ pasty would upset locals and wouldn’t be welcome.
Instead the outlet at a service station just off the A38 in Saltash features a range of slices and other baked goods including sausage rolls, sandwiches and cakes.
One outraged local even asked: ‘Why in the name of Satan does our county need a Greggs?’
It is understood that Greggs, which has had several stores in neighbouring Devon for many years, has never sold pasties in the West Country as it did not want to create a pasty war. [it’s pronounced “pass-ti” not “pay-sti” — Kim]

I find myself unmoved by the brouhaha because — and let it be shouted from the rooftops — Cornish pasties are shit.

Here’s why.  The problem with adding vegetables to a meat pie is twofold:  firstly, the carrots, beans and such are generally overcooked, which makes them taste bland and horrible;  and secondly, if I buy a meat pie, I want meat — and for too long, unscrupulous bakers have overloaded pasties with veggies because vegetables are cheaper than meat.  (I’m even a little iffy about steak ‘n potato pies, for the same reason.)

So my proud boast is that I haven’t eaten a Cornish pasty in (probably) thirty-five years, not even when I was in Boscastle last year.

And when (not if) I venture into a Greggs in Cornwall in the future, it’ll be sausage rolls or steak bakes, not that pasty rubbish.

3 comments

  1. The mining town of Butte Montana was the destination of many Cornish miners coming to America in the 1890/1900 era. There are photos of them with their lunch buckets at the shaft going on shift. The typical contents were a pastie and something sweet. Pasties are still available in Butte containing steak, potatoes and a thick gravy all in a pastry wrap. They do say it pass tee

  2. Much of the copper country in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was settled by Finnish miners who brought their version of pasties with them. You can find pasty shops of varying degrees of quality all throughout the U.P. They also make pretty good fundraiser projects for local schools and churches. They can make a pretty good meal if they’re made well enough, otherwise you’re stuck drowning them in ketchup, gravy, or salt and pepper. Partially because the vegetables were cooked past becoming flavorless, but also because most of them also cooked the flavor out of the meat (usually hamburger). Were I to make them now, I’d probably use smoked pulled pork or smoked pulled brisket rather than browned unseasoned hamburger.

    Growing up there and having to interact tourists (affectionately dubbed “fudgies” and not so affectionately dubbed “cone suckers”) for my first job while pumping gas and carrying groceries I have several good stories to tell. One of my favorites was pumping gas for this lady whose appearance was straight out of uptight Baptist church lady central casting. She struck up a conversation with me which eventually arrived at “can you tell me what pasties are?” (she pronounced it pay-sti). Being a callow youth, I told her that a “pay-sti” was a decoration, usually with a tassel, held on with an adhesive that strippers would often use to cover portions of their breasts. As the color drained from this woman’s face thinking all the places advertising pasties were of ill-repute and was growing increasingly horrified, I quickly added that “pass-ti”s were essentially a meat pie stuffed with meat, potatoes, and other vegetables and these places were selling pass-tis, not pay-stis. Needless to say she was not amused, thanked me for pumping her gas, paid for it in cash, and drove off. My boss, on the other hand, who overheard the whole thing was laughing heartily before telling me that a simpler explanation for customers would probably be better.

  3. A proper Cornish pasty is supposed to have vegetables. But the vegetables are supposed to be separate from the meat, not mixed in. So you can take a bite of meat and then a bite of vegetables. The pastry covering was mainly to keep the thing hygienic when the man was down the mine or aboard a fishing vessel.

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