The Cornish Pasty

/ By Louise Conway / Cornish Food & Drink /
The Cornish Pasty

Perhaps the most famous Cornish food is, you guessed it, the iconic Cornish Pasty. 

Always a Cornish staple, the humble pasty is now more in demand than ever before. With a growing number of retail outlets nationally specialising in providing pasties, and increasing overseas demand, the Cornish Pasty is definitely well and truly on the international map. Roughly 120 million Cornish pasties are made, and eaten, every year.

 To qualify as a genuine the pasty must :-

  • be "D" shape with crimping on the side, not on top
  • be chunky in texture
  • contain mince or chunks of beef with swede, potato and onion
  • be encased in golden pastry, which has not split
  • and of course, be made in Cornwall 

First introduced in the the 13th century the Cornish Pasty was at first the fare of the royal and rich. The fillings were decadent and varied, including venison, seafood like eel, beef or lamb with sumptious gravies and fruits. Jane Seymour, wife of Henry the Eighth, was said to be a big fan.

They are most famously known as lunch for the tin miners who did not have time to surface during the day. A good pasty could survive being dropped down a mine shaft! The thick crimped crust was held by the miners while eating it, then chucked away. Their hands probably had arsenic on from the mining, so really the crust stopped them from getting poisoned. Hoggan or ‘Oggy’ is the slang name for a Cornish Pasty. When the wives of the miners arrived, they would shout down the mineshaft ‘Oggy! Oggy! Oggy!’ to which the miners would yell back ‘Oi! Oi! Oi!’.


Did you know?!

  • carrot in a pasty, now common, used to be the sign of an inferior pasty
  • the largest Cornish pasty ever made was 32 feet long
  • superstitious Cornish fisherman refuse to take a Pasty on board their boat, fearing bad luck
  • it is said that the Devil himself wouldn’t cross the Tamar River into Cornwall for fear of being turned into a pasty, as anything and everything can be put in a pasty. 
  • you can even dial-a-pasty straight to your door in Cornwall!
  • the World Pasty Championships are held every year in March at the Eden Project if you fancy your chances

Right, all this is making me very hungry….if you are too check out this great recipe:

Cornish Pasty Association 

Top Tip: Pasties taste best when eaten in Cornwall!